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.
Denim is timeless, and jeans are probably one of the world’s most beloved garments. But, many are forgotten and collect dust in the back of the wardrobe. “So, we thought, let’s recycle them and turn them into something useful again,” says Piotr Jakubiak, involved in the development of KLIPPAN denim cover.
It’s not waste – it’s a material bank
“It started as a small project and is now something we’re doing in several countries. We collaborate with local partners that share our sustainability perspective, and like us, see products as material banks for the future,” says Piotr.
The jeans are shredded and mixed with virgin cotton so the fibres once again can become a strong fabric.
“From two pairs of jeans that are too big, small, or out of fashion, we can make one new denim cover.”
The virgin cotton comes from more sustainable sources. It means that it’s either recycled or grown with less water, chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Today, each KLIPPAN denim cover contains 40 per cent recycled and 60 per cent virgin cotton, but Piotr says that the numbers will improve even more in the future.
“We’ve managed to increase the amount of recycled cotton in the fabric considerably the last couple of months – we are moving fast, and a lot of positive things are happening. Transforming old jeans into new denim is a step on the way to only use renewable or recycled materials in all our products by 2030. It’s a matter of thinking smarter, and together with our partners and all the people that recycle, there’s not much that can stop us.”
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.