Woman seen from behind walking through a field as the sun sets carrying a large bag full of cotton on her head.

Committed to sustainable cotton – and to changing the industry

Cotton is one of our most important materials, and we want it to be produced with respect for people and the environment.

“Since September 1st, 2015, all the cotton we use for IKEA products is responsibly sourced. We call it Cotton from More Sustainable Sources (CMSS) where 85% is Better Cotton and the rest is recycled cotton. This change in the supply chain took over a decade of determination and hard work. We are pleased to have reached our 100% target, but we aren’t satisfied and won’t stop here,” says Rahul Ganju, Sustainability Manager Textiles, IKEA of Sweden AB.
A girl with black hair in bunches and a white t-shirt sitting at a desk and doing her homework.
Increased benefits for cotton farmers mean better opportunities for their kids.

Cotton can change lives

The fact that all cotton used by the IKEA business comes from more sustainable sources, means lots of different things, for instance that our cotton is grown with less water and chemicals, helping areas that are subject to erosion and water scarcity. It also means increased benefits and wellbeing for the cotton farmers and a better quality of life for them and their families. It means education for their kids. In other words, any cotton choice you make when buying an IKEA product is a better one.

Seeing the difference responsible sourcing makes, being 100% committed to sustainable cotton is an easy choice. We ensure that this promise to our customers is being kept, by regularly checking that the cotton can be traced back to the spinner, the ginnery and the farmers that grew it.

The Better Cotton Initiative is a global game-changer

Since 2005, we have worked with WWF to make cotton farming more sustainable. Along with WWF, we helped set up the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a non-profit organisation that aims to improve the lives of cotton farmers, make the cotton production more responsible and increase demand for sustainable cotton.

Today, the Better Cotton Initiative is the largest cotton sustainability program in the world, providing training on more sustainable farming practices to more than 2,000,000 cotton farmers in 21 countries. “We started using Better Cotton to meet IKEA requirements. But seeing the benefits for the people working with it and for the environment, we want to move all our production to Better Cotton,” says Venkatachalam Ashok Ram Kumar, Managing Director of Asian Fabricx.

A pair of tanned hands hold a cotton plant.

Cotton at IKEA by numbers

About a quarter of all the cotton we use comes from Pakistan, which makes it our biggest cotton sourcing country. Other important cotton suppliers are India, China, USA and Brazil.

Sustainable cotton used by the IKEA business includes 80,5% cotton grown to the Better Cotton Initiative Standard, 14,6% recycled cotton, and 4,9% Towards Better Cotton, or other more sustainable cotton such as the e3 Cotton Program in the USA. Towards Better Cotton – on its way to becoming Better Cotton – is a standard we developed following the same principles and criteria as Better Cotton.

Each year, we use around 1% of the world’s cotton supply. Despite being a relatively small number, it’s enough to drive change.

Leading lasting change

As one of the leading global brands regarding sustainable cotton sourcing, our vision is that more sustainable cotton becomes a mainstream material – affordable and accessible to everyone. We continue to work in the field, expanding the scope of the initiatives to include water, biodiversity and soil management.

“We are committed to creating a positive change throughout the entire cotton industry. More sustainable cotton needs to become a mainstream material beyond our business and we continue to collaborate and work with our partners to create an even bigger positive impact on the industry, people and our planet,” says Rahul Ganju.

For more information on the work of the WWF and IKEA partnership, please read the latest report here (PDF, 3.5 MB)

White material with blue printed designs hanging on a washing line in the sun to dry.