Cotton – a natural fabric known for its breathability, durability and softness – is one of the most important materials in our collections. For all its benefits, conventional cotton has a significant impact on the environment – due to the use of pesticides and fertilisers, high water consumption and the soil degradation it causes – which is why we’ve committed to replacing all conventional cotton in our collections with organic or recycled cotton fibres by 2025. As we take steps towards 2025, we will continue to support the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) – a global not-for-profit organisation that addresses the negative impacts of mainstream cotton production – as a better solution where technical or supply chain limitations are not fully in place to source organic or recycled fibres.
ROADMAP TO 2025
It is at the design and sourcing stage where we work together with our suppliers to source better fibre alternatives to conventional ones. To be able to offer each and every design or technique in a responsible quality takes time, research and innovation. Therefore, we have set a roadmap to transition towards our end objective of sourcing all cotton from organic or recycled sources by 2025. The below timeline sets out the percentage of organic and recycled cotton, from the total volume of cotton used per year.
- 2021: 60% – current position
- 2022: 70%
- 2023: 80%
- 2024: 90%
- 2025: 100%
The benefits of organic cotton drive our choice to replace conventional cotton with its organic counterpart. For cotton to be considered organic, it needs to be produced and certified to specific standards – i.e. it must be grown on land free from pesticides and fertilizers for at least three years, without using GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Organic cotton takes significantly less water to grow than conventional cotton and is farmed using crop rotation, which eases pressure on local water resources and promotes soil health.
All our organic cotton is certified by third-party organisations, the fabric composition can be found on the care label of each garment and online in the highlights and care section per product. When referring to an organic cotton item, the fibre content of the main material is between 95 and 100%. For fabric blends that are partly made with organic cotton, the fibre content is listed in the fabric composition on the care label in combination with the fibre(s) it is blended with.
We are members of GOTS, which is the leading global standard for organic textile fibres, including compliance with specific environmental and social criteria across the supply chain.
Recycled cotton re-uses leftover cotton fabric from the textile industry or unwanted garments to make new cotton fibres. By utilising existing resources, this circular approach reduces the demand for new virgin fibres, helping to keep textile waste within the clothing cycle and out of landfill.
Recycled cotton is often used at a value of around 20%, as the fibres of recycled cotton are shorter than virgin cotton and need to be blended with other fibres to maintain the quality and durability of certain garments like denim. The percentage of recycled cotton used in the garment is listed in the fabric composition of the garment.
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a global not-for-profit organisation. It aims 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. We have been supporting this organisation since 2018, a collective movement that together addresses the negative impacts of mainstream cotton production. BCI cotton is not organic, and Better Cotton cannot be physically traced to an individual product. What it means is that whenever you purchase a cotton garment from Scotch & Soda, you’re supporting the BCI initiative. It supports the farmers who use water efficiently, cares for the health of natural habitats, reduces their use of harmful chemicals and respects the rights and wellbeing of their workers.
In 2013, we became a member of the Amfori Business Social Compliance Initiative (Amfori BSCI), the leading global business association for open and sustainable trade. All our suppliers are required to comply with our Code of Conduct. This includes social standards in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in which forced labour is not tolerated and we take a firm stand against any reports of this.
For the year 2021, the majority of the styles that are made with cotton come from three countries of origin: China, Turkey and India. Cotton represents 66% of the styles used in our collections.
China: 49% of our total usage comes from China, from two provinces: Shandong and Heibei. 34% is organically grown and 66% is conventionally grown, from which 67% is certified by the Better Cotton Initiative.
Turkey: 36% of our total usage comes from Turkey, from the Aegean region. 64% is organically grown and 36% is conventionally grown, from which 38% is certified by the Better Cotton Initiative.
India: 15% of our total usage comes from India, from three regions: Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra. 66% is organically grown and 34% is conventionally grown, from which 58% is certified by the Better Cotton Initiative.
We require all our contractual suppliers to not use cotton from areas that are considered high risk for child labour or forced labour and show documentation to that effect. We also work with our suppliers to trace our cotton supply from raw material to final product to increase transparency across our supply chain.
As a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, we follow and support their recommendations and expertise to improve the effectiveness of the system in identifying, preventing, mitigating and remediating forced labour risks worldwide.