We use cotton in many of our products, from sofas and cushions to bed linen and mattresses. It is a soft, durable and renewable fibre that breathes and is good at absorbing moisture.
All these great qualities make cotton one of our most important materials, but it isn’t without its challenges, much having to do with conventional farming methods that negatively impact the environment and poor working conditions for farmers.
With our size and production volumes, we want to drive change in the cotton industry. By only using recycled cotton or cotton from more sustainable sources, working with partnerships and initiatives on the ground and prioritising compliance, we believe that we can make a positive impact in the world of cotton.
"The tiger is a symbol of a healthy ecosystems", says product developer Anna Edlundh. Before work started on the URSKOG/DJUNGELSKOG textile collections, Anna participated in a workshop where the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) organisation shared their expert knowledge regarding endangered species. It inspired Anna and her colleagues to have a print of the magnificent tiger on a duvet cover in comfortable lyocell and cotton.
"As a predator at the top of the food chain, the tiger has an important role in maintaining a balance in nature."
Through their encounter with WWF, Anna and her team also came up with ideas for other wild animals that should have more light shed on them, and which can fascinate children of all ages. The panda, the zebra and the gorilla were some of the animals chosen.
URSKOG/DJUNGELSKOG are our tribute to nature and its diversity. Everything from duvet covers and pillows to towels and rugs are colourful and have a multitude of impressions – just as nature itself.
Anna and her colleagues at Children's IKEA always focus on the environment. For them, it's a given to choose materials and production methods that are neither harmful to children or our environment.
"With these collections which focus on nature, it felt particularly good that we use materials such as the cellulose fibre called lyocell, cotton from more sustainable sources and polyester made from recycled plastic", says Anna.
Today, all cotton products which IKEA sells have a marking so that the cotton can be traced back all the way to the farmers. It's a guarantee that the cotton actually comes from sustainable production.
In Pakistan, a country with an extensive textile tradition, there is a great deal of expertise when it comes to different printing techniques. Abdul Majid Khan, who works at our office in the provincial capital Karachi, says that many of the patterns in the collections are printed with a pigment print. It's a technique that we are choosing more and more due to its environmental benefits.
"The advantage with it is that we can skip a large washing step during production", says Abdul Majid. "And in this reduces water consumption by 30-40% compared with the reactive printing technique. For a single duvet cover with a pillow case, it means that we save at least 30 litres of water."
From the experts at WWF, Anna learned that the colours of the wild animals which inspired our textile collections are completely unique.
"Did you know that every tiger has its own pattern? Personal stripes that it keeps its whole life."
Since 2015, all cotton in IKEA products is either recycled or comes from more sustainable sources*. This means that we only source cotton grown using sustainable farming practices that reduce the use of fertilisers, pesticides and water, improve working conditions and earnings for farmers, and benefit ecosystem health and biodiversity conservation. We have set up a system that enables use to trace all our cotton and ensure that the final product is from approved, certified sources.
*Cotton from more sustainable sources commits to the following schemes: Better Cotton (as defined by BCI, including their equivalence in various geographies), cotton from farmers working towards the BCI standard (TBC).
Each year, IKEA uses around 0.5 percent of all cotton grown around the world. This may not seem like a lot, but the number is big enough to drive change in the industry.
For many years, we have been working with partners and stakeholders globally to transform conventional large-scale cotton farming and set social and environmental standards for cotton production. As an example, we helped set up the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) who runs the world’s largest cotton sustainability programme. BCI exists 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. Today, more than 110,000 farmers have adopted more sustainable farming practices within IKEA projects.
All IKEA products are produced in accordance with the IKEA IWAY Standard, our Supplier Code of Conduct. It sets out the minimum environmental and social standards expected from our suppliers, including compliance with local laws. We do not accept any form of forced labour, child labour or treatments in breach of our supply chain requirements.
Our cotton teams across the globe ensure that all cotton used in IKEA products meets the demands of compliance in our supply chain. By having teams on the ground in areas where it has previously been challenging to work responsibly, we can challenge the traditional ways of working and improve the industry.
If we discover that we are acting in places where we cannot ensure our requirements are being met, we follow-up on the ground and drive change.