H&M: world's biggest user of certified organic cotton once more

Friday, 01 August 2014
Swedish fashion retailer H&M has been named once more the world's biggest user of certified organic cotton, making it the third time the fashion retailer tops the list, according to the Textile Exchange's Organic Cotton Market Report 2013.

“We are very proud of this achievement and we have set a clear goal to further increase our usage of certified organic cotton,” commented Henrik Lampa, H&M’s environmental sustainability manager, in a statement. “This is part of our strategic target to use only more sustainable cotton by 2020.”

H&M has increased its use of certified organic cotton by 29 percent over the past year, with all organic cotton used by H&M being independently certified. In 2013, 10.8 percent of the cotton used by H&M was certified organic, an increase from 7.8 percent in 2012.

H&M: "Making a meaningful change in the textile industry"

“We congratulate H&M on its continued impressive demonstration of leadership,” commented LaRhea Pepper, managing director at Textile Exchange. “H&M is a wonderful example of a company making meaningful change in the textile industry. With its constantly increasing demand for organic cotton, H&M sends an important signal to producers and at the same time makes more sustainable fashion accessible and desirable to a broad target group.”

H&M topped Textile Exchange's annual ranking in 2010 and 2011, but was bumped down to second place in 2012, when Dutch fashion chain C&A was listed as the world's largest user of certified organic cotton. C&A reportedly sold 100 million garments made of organic cotton in 2013, with 38 percent of the retailer's cotton collection being 100 percent organic certified.

Earlier this year C&A voiced its concerns about the impending shortage of organic cotton, due to worldwide declining production and launched a campaign against this development. “We are now at a critical point in which the demand for organic cotton is exceeding the supply,” warned Thorsten Rolfes, head of corporate communications at C&A Europe this April. “The availability uncertainty tied to this threatens to endanger long-term investment in organic cotton.”

C&A aims to helped boost the decline in organic cotton production by spreading awareness and information surrounding organic cotton. The Dutch fashion retailer shares a common goal with H&M, to only use sustainable cotton for its collections by 2020.

"Brands play a key role in the development of organic cotton as a sustainable resource"

“Brands play a key role in the development of organic cotton as a sustainable resource. Some brands are taking action, but the supply crisis shows that much more needs to be done. Collaboration is the key - working in partnership with experts, local communities and governments can enable organic cotton to realize its full potential,” added Rolfes.

So far, H&M seems to be following C&A's advice and has launched a series of partnerships with local communities and governments over the past few months. Earlier this year, H&M launched the first products made with recycled cotton that had been made from consumer textile waste.

The collection launch followed H&M's first global garment collecting scheme, which aims to create a closed loop for textile production. “To achieve our ambitious target, we create a growing demand for certified organic cotton, while additionally investing in Better Cotton and pioneering recycled cotton,” continued Lampa.

“All together means major improvements for people and the environment and makes clear business sense.”

Image: H&M Conscious Collection

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