Promoting sustainable cotton farming in India and Pakistan
The IKEA Group of Sweden has reinforced its goal to use only cotton produced entirely in line with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in all IKEA products by end of 2015.
As part of this effort, the leading home furnishing retailer also plans to grow worldwide demand for sustainable cotton at affordable prices. IKEA's goal is to ensure that consumers do not have to pay a premium for cotton products that are more sustainably farmed than conventional cotton using less water and fewer chemicals and pesticides. Forecasts suggest cotton production costs will increase as conventional cotton farming becomes more water and chemical intensive. IKEA believes it is possible to produce cotton at a lower cost and through practices which not only improve incomes for farmers but also have a lower impact on the environment.
Cotton is the second most important raw material for the company after wood, making it a clear strategic priority. In 2012, IKEA used 160,000 tonnes of cotton in its products with the majority coming from India and Pakistan, where its work related to the BCtA commitments are focused.
IKEA's commitment began in 2005 as part of its overall environmental efforts and as a founding member of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). BCI works with a diverse range of stakeholders to promote measurable and continuing improvements for the environment, farming communities, and the economies of cotton-producing areas. Such efforts often reduce input costs and generally increase farmer incomes by transforming the way in which cotton is farmed. By encouraging more sustainable cotton farming methods and the uptake of Better Cotton on the global market, IKEA contributes to securing a more stable, affordable supply of cotton.
IKEA is providing technical assistance and training to thousands of farmers in Pakistan to help them to produce and sell Better Cotton. Currently, 34 percent (51,000 tonnes) of all cotton used in IKEA products is produced in line with BCI standards. In 2012, the annual world production of sustainable cotton was only 250,000 tonnes, which IKEA seeks to increase through its holistic approach to assisting farmers, including those outside of IKEA's value chain.