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.
Jordan, with a population of nine million people, has received nearly 700,000 refugees since 2011. It has meant social challenges that the Jordan River Foundation is working to overcome. We teamed up with them to see how we could contribute. It resulted in TILLTALANDE textile products, made by Jordanian and refugee women.
Paulin Machado, IKEA designer, and Faridon Abida – designer at Jordan River Foundation, worked side-by-side with the women at JRF’s production centres when creating the collection.
“It was a dynamic collaboration and we learned a lot from each other. I provided a base that Faridon and the women could put their own touch to. On the cushions with camel print, the saddles and palm trees are hand-embroidered and placed where the artisan likes it best”, says Paulin.
“The skills these women possess are amazing. If we expressed an idea out loud, the artisan would show us something 15 minutes later and ask ‘Is this what you mean?’ It was fantastic!”
Jordan lies in a region filled with proud textile traditions. The woven products in the TILLTALANDE collection are inspired by Bedouins and stories passed on in generations. The collection has earthy colours reflecting the Jordan landscape, but also a modern touch with black and white.
”Weaving Bedouin rugs is a delicate art. I learned and inherited the craft from my mother. Every rug we weave is produced with passion and hard labour. It’s an ode to our heritage,” says Amneh Al Gawanmeh, artisan at one of JRF’s production centres.
The first step of the cooperation has created jobs for more than 100 women, a number that’s planned to grow to 400 before the end of 2020.
“We’re benefitting from each other’s strengths. IKEA is contributing with access to a global market place and knowledge regarding distribution and home furnishing. The artisans bring their deep knowledge and techniques in handicraft. In the next step we will together look into how we can make the work more efficient and easier for the women,” says Stina Engler, Product developer.
For us at IKEA, the cooperation means a chance to offer unique products, but also a possibility to learn more about a fascinating craft. For some of the women in Jordan, it means freedom and power to influence their everyday. In one end you gain treasured products – in the other lives are changed.
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.