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Cotton

Cotton farmer, standing in a cotton field, carrying cotton balls on his head.

We're all-in for cotton from more sustainable sources

Since September 1 2015, all the cotton we use for IKEA products comes from more sustainable sources. This means that the cotton is either recycled, or grown with less water, chemical fertiliser and pesticide, while increasing profit margins for farmers. 
 
We’re proud about our progress, but our journey to improve the cotton industry doesn’t end here. Through projects in our sourcing countries, we aim to further improve farmers’ profitability and reduce the environmental impact of cotton farming. By sharing our experiences with the wider industry, our long-term goal is to transform the entire cotton market.
A baby wrapped in a white/beige baby towel with a hood, sitting in her mothers knee.

Why more sustainable cotton matters

Cotton is one of our most important raw materials. You’ll find it in many IKEA products, from sofas and cushions to bed sheets and mattresses. Although we love working with cotton, we are uncomfortable with the fact that growing cotton in the conventional way is often harmful to the environment and the people involved.

When grown conventionally, cotton farming uses large amounts of chemicals and water. This practice often leads to significant health risks to farmers, soil erosion and water scarcity. It also leads to higher costs, and since most cotton is grown on small farms in developing countries, many farmers struggle to make a profit.

So, we decided to find a way to tackle these challenges and have made a commitment to improve the cotton industry.

 

Cotton farmers kneeling down in a cotton field inspecting the soil.

Taking action to transform the cotton industry

Over a decade ago, IKEA began taking steps to transform the way cotton is produced. Along with WWF and others, we helped set up the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which aims to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity. 
 
Since 2005, we have been working with WWF to make cotton farming more sustainable. Our work began with 500 farmers in Pakistan. In the beginning they were reluctant about the idea of changing their cultivation techniques. However after one year, the results were significant enough to inspire more farmers to join our projects in India and Pakistan. 
 
Through hands-on training and field schools, together with our partners we have helped around 110,000 farmers learn more sustainable farming methods. This initiative has allowed farmers to cut costs, increase their profits and improve their working conditions.  As a result, they can afford a better quality of life for their families, including schooling for their children. We are continuing our work in this field and are hoping to see an industry-wide change in the future.
 

Find out more about how we work with our code of conduct IWAY to secure e.g working conditions and minimum requirements for environment at our suppliers.

 

Making a lasting impact

We’re pleased to have reached our 100% target, but we won’t stop there. IKEA is committed to creating positive change throughout the entire cotton industry. Today, 82% of our total cotton supply is from Better Cotton and 18% is recycled cotton. Our vision is that more sustainable cotton becomes a mainstream material - affordable and accessible to many people beyond our business. We are pleased to have reached this milestone, but we’re not stopping there. One of our main focus areas now is water. We are pleased to have reached this milestone, but we’re not stopping there. One of our main focus areas now is water.

 

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Becoming water positive

We at IKEA are committed to being water positive, using it as efficiently as possible and promoting water stewardship throughout and beyond our own sphere of operations and on into the wider world.
 
Based on the WWF’s water stewardship model, we are working to reduce the impact of our own operations and our suppliers’ operation, supporting sustainable water management in river basins and increasing people’s access to clean water. And our work to become water positive focuses on cotton, because cotton is one of the most high-impact crops when it comes to water. We provide farmers with training on better water management practices, and establish community-based Water User Associations. This means farmers grow with less water, so more water can be diverted to other uses.  
Close up of a cotton field during dawn.

Cotton from more sustainable sources

Of the total cotton we use in IKEA products, 18% is recycled cotton. The remaining 82% comes from these sources: Better Cotton: 69%, towards better cotton*, and other more sustainable cotton, such as the E3 program in the US: 13%.

In calendar year 2016, we used more than 131 000 MT of cotton.

*Towards better cotton is a standard developed by IKEA following the same principles and criteria as Better Cotton, on its way to become Better Cotton.

Learn more about how we work with cotton and our partnerships

Since September 1, 2015, all the cotton we use for IKEA products comes from more sustainable sources. This means that the cotton is grown with less water, chemical fertiliser and pesticide, while increasing profit margins for farmers.

Learn more about IKEA and WWF cotton projects
Learn more about Better Cotton Initiative

Reports & Downloads
Read more about how we source cotton in Turkmenistan PDF
IKEA VIEW: Cotton PDF