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C&A Pledges to Source More Eco-Friendly Cotton by 2020

C&A is helping the apparel industry accelerate its use of more sustainable cotton to reduce fashion’s carbon footprint with a new cotton sourcing commitment.

The apparel retailer joined the Prince of Wales global Sustainable Cotton Communiqué, a pledge that commenced at the 2017 Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference and commits apparel retailers to use 100 percent sustainable cotton by 2025.

To date, 37 major fashion companies, including Asos and Nike, have pledged to the commitment, which aims to drive more sustainable practices in the apparel industry and alleviate the negative environmental effects sometimes associated with cotton production, including pesticide use and the release of greenhouse gases. As part of its individual commitment to the Communiqué, C&A pledged to only source more eco-friendly cotton over the next three years.

“By joining this initiative we–as the world’s No. 1 buyer of certified organic cotton and the world’s No. 3 brand sourcing more sustainable cotton–have the opportunity to share our learnings with the industry on how to source and accelerate the use of more sustainable cotton. Our 2020 goal is for 100 percent of the cotton we use to be more sustainable,” said Jeffrey Hogue, C&A’s global chief sustainability officer. “Today, already over 70 percent of the cotton we sell meets this standard.”

According to C&A’s 2016 global sustainability report, 53 percent of the cotton C&A sold met the standard for sourcing more sustainable cotton and 33 percent of the cotton C&A sold was organic. C&A said it does not blend organic cotton with non-organic cotton in its apparel collections and ensures the organic cotton it uses receives certification by leading third-party standards, including the Global Organic Textile Standard and the Organic Cotton Standard. In 2015, C&A transferred to the Better Cotton Initiative, a leading program designed to boost the adoption of better farming practices and support eco-friendly cotton production. The program aims to have a third of all cotton grown worldwide to be Better Cotton by 2020.

“The industry is awakening to the necessity of sustainably grown cotton,” said La Rhea Pepper, Textile Exchange’s managing director. “It is great to see additional brands joining this initiative to accelerate the momentum of cotton production in a way that will positively impact smallholder farmers, water quality and soil health.”

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C&A’s pledge to the communiqué comes on the heels of its other corporate social responsibility efforts. Earlier this month, C&A Foundation’s Brazilian office, Instituto C&A, launched a “call for proposals,” for advanced innovations to improve working conditions in Brazil’s fashion industry. The call for proposals, which has an initial budget of $400,000 and a maximum budget of roughly $180,000 for three individual proposals, said initiatives presented should implement projects that disseminate data about issues impacting working conditions and help key industry members enforce actions that improve garment workers’ safety and wages.