Despite an increasing demand in international markets, global production of organic cotton continues to decline. This development bears ecological, social and economic consequences for all in the worldwide supply chain for organic cotton. Measured against the global production of cotton, the share of organic cotton today is only 1 percent.
For C&A Europe, which has been dedicated to promoting organic cotton production for 10 years already, counteracting this step backwards is a special priority.
Thorsten Rolfes, Head of Corporate Communications Europe, explains, “We are now at a critical point in which the demand for organic cotton is exceeding the supply. The availability uncertainty tied to this threatens to endanger long-term investment in organic cotton.”
To spread awareness of this problem, C&A is now publishing the informational brochure “Let’s take Bio Cotton to everyone every day.” This comprehensively explains the added value and current challenges of organic cotton production, and shows opportunities for all those in the global supply chain. Here, C&A sees garment industry companies as having particular responsibility.
“Brands play a key role in the development of organic cotton as a sustainable resource. Some brands are taking action, but the supply crisis shows that much more needs to be done. Collaboration is the key – working in partnership with experts, local communities and governments can enable organic cotton to realize its full potential,” says Rolfes. “But firms can make a difference not only in the production countries but also in the sales markets by making their customers aware of the subject of organic cotton. In our experience, it is possible to create awareness, fulfill the demand and be profitable.”
What are the social and economic benefits of organic cotton?
Organic cotton enables the retailer and consumer to directly improve the lives of the people in the supply network.
No GM seeds:
Increasing global use of genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds1, is creating long-term complications through animal and plant pest resistance, and contamination of organic stocks.
of cotton harvested in India is grown with GM seeds2.
Greenhouse gas emissions:
No synthetic agro-chemicals needed, reducing pollution and Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions caused in their production and use in the fields.
Nitrous oxide has a 300 times more potent greenhouse gas effect than CO2.
Around 70 to 80% of organic cotton production is rain-fed rather than irrigated, resulting in a lower water footprint. Water quality is also maintained by eradication of synthetic chemicals, which are known to contaminate or cause salinisation of both surface and groundwater. Organic cotton farming can create up to 80% less water pollution3.
Health and safety:
By removing the use of toxic chemicals, the health and safety for the farmers and their communities is improved. In addition, they benefit from better food security through improved variety and quality.
Organic agriculture is based on the principles of health, ecology, fairness and care. Ultimately helping farmers and their families improve their livelihoods and lives3.
"Through their commitment to organic cotton, C&A are confronting some of the key issues challenging the textile industry. We applaud their leadership and continued commitment to drive meaningful change."
Managing Director Textile Exchange
C&A buys its bio cotton for the products marked with „Bio Cotton“ either are certified according to the OCS (Organic Content Standard) or according to GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), which includes ecological as well as social criteria as human rights and working conditions. Both of them use independent certifier (e.g. Control Union) for providing integrity for our approach.
C&A is increasingly seeking textiles that are certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). This world-leading textile processing standard for organic fibers defines globally recognized requirements, which include not only ecological, social and quality criteria along the entire supply chain, but also an assessment and residue testing of chemical inputs.
C&A boosts its offering with its first GOTS labeled baby collection
C&A Europe has launched a new baby collection that is certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), reinforcing the company’s commitment to sustainability. Promoted as the company’s first GOTS-compliant collection, it extends C&A’s offering of more sustainable products. The new range is available at selected European C&A stores and online.
The first labeled GOTS baby collection at C&A is another step forward in C&A’s sustainability ambitions. In addition, it extends our offering of organic fibers and more sustainable materials and products, including more sustainable viscose and recycled polyester.
Our aim is to offer durable, high-quality products made of organic materials with a transparent supply chain that protects natural resources, is safe for people and satisfies our customers’ wishes.
Committed to taking certified “Bio Cotton” mainstream
C&A has been using organic cotton since 2004. The C&A “Bio Cotton” seal was introduced in 2007 to make our organic cotton textiles easily recognizable for customers. Today, “Bio Cotton” represents 38 percent of our total cotton sales, with other sustainable cotton equaling more than 40 percent of our cotton sales and more than 27 percent of our total collection. In 2014, we sold 130 million organic items.
Under the “Bio Cotton” seal, 80 percent of textiles are certified to the Organic Content Standard (OCS) and 20 percent to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The new offering for babies is the first C&A collection that visibly displays the GOTS certification.
While progress has been made, C&A’s commitment to sustainable materials continues to advance. C&A is currently looking to source its entire cotton collection from sustainable production by the year 2020. To achieve this ambition, we invest in social and environmental programs to encourage the production of organic cotton. As our goal is to bring “Bio Cotton” to everyone, we sell our “Bio Cotton” products at the same price as conventional ones.