H&M was the world’s biggest user of organic cotton in 2013, and the retailer’s use of the fiber increased 29 percent over last year, according to Textile Exchange’s 2013 Organic Cotton Market Report. The fast fashion retailer has consistently been the biggest user of organic cotton, ranking second in 2012 and first in 2011 and 2010. Not far behind as major organic cotton users were Dutch fashion chain C&A and sportswear brand Puma.
Organic cotton accounted for 10.8% of cotton H&M used in last year–a 7.8% increase from the previous year. The retailer identified all of its clothing made with at least 50 percent organic cotton with a special hang tag.
The company intends to use even more sustainable cotton by 2020 and Henrik Lampa, H&M’s environmental sustainability manager, said, “To achieve our ambitious target, we create a growing demand for certified organic cotton, while additionally investing in Better Cotton and pioneering recycled cotton. All together means major improvements for people and the environment and makes clear business sense.”
Better Cotton is grown in a more environmentally conscious way than conventional cotton. It represented 5 percent of H&M’s total cotton use at the end of 2013. Earlier this year, H&M launched its first line garments made with recycled cotton produced from consumer textile waste.
Textile Exchange’s report showed a dramatic decrease in organic cotton production, which could, however, raise concern for brands as demand for the fiber grows. Organic cotton production dropped 21 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year. Overall, conventional and organic cotton production dipped 4.1% over the same period.
The organization named weak market signals and conditions as main drivers in the decline of cotton production. Other challenges include, business uncertainty, cash flow challenges and access to good quality, non-genetically modified seed.