Fashion retailer Primark is expanding its Sustainable Cotton Programme, pledging to teach 125,000 more smallholder cotton farmers more sustainable growing practices in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh by the end of 2023, boosting the estimated supply of sustainable cotton for its goods by 60%.
UK value retailer Primark, claims the expansion demonstrates progress toward its promise to use organic, recycled, or Sustainable Cotton Program cotton in 100% of its clothing by 2027. It will also increase the overall number of farmers in the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme (PSCP) by more than 80,000, representing an increase of more than 80%. According to Primark, the surge solidifies its position as the largest of its sort of single apparel shop.
Lynne Walker, director at Primark Cares, said that they launched their Sustainable Cotton project with their partners over a decade ago to lessen the impact on the environment, promote farmer livelihoods, and enhance the way they obtain their cotton. They're pleased with how far it's come, being the largest fashion shop of its sort. It has taken years to develop a program of this size, and the good impact it has had on the livelihoods of thousands of farmers means we can continue to expand it, benefiting more farmers and helping their objective to offer more sustainable alternatives to our consumers at Primark.
Walker added that their sustainable cotton program is critical to their long-term goal of making more sustainable clothing available to everyone. Over half of their garments are created with cotton, so by expanding the number of farmers, they will be able to reach their pledge that by 2027, all cotton in their products will be organic, recycled, or from their program.
The retailer created the program and launched its first pilot in India in 2013 in collaboration with agronomic experts, Cotton Connect, and the grassroots organization, the Self-Employed Women's Association, with the goal of reducing its environmental impact, changing the way the business sources cotton and improving farmers' livelihoods.
CottonConnect's REEL (responsible environment enhanced livelihoods) Programme is used to cultivate Primark's sustainable cotton. Cotton growers are educated for three years to reduce their reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides in order to conserve biodiversity and help combat climate change. The initiative contributes to the development of a transparent and robust supply chain that benefits local farming communities.
Farmers in the program use 40% fewer chemical pesticides and fertilizers and 10% less water per acre on average, with a 14% increase in output and a 200 percent gain in income. Moving ahead, the initiative will be focused on restoring biodiversity, with the goal of having all farmers participating in the program adopt more regenerative techniques by 2030.
The initiative supports Primark's promise to source 100% of the cotton in its clothing from the Sustainable Cotton Program, organic, or recycled cotton by 2027, as well as its commitment to creating all of its goods from recycled fibers or more sustainably sourced materials by 2030. Currently, about 40% of Primark apparel is produced from recycled fibers or materials obtained more responsibly. Cotton is the most often used fiber in Primark apparel – more than half of all Primark clothing is manufactured largely from cotton – and more than a quarter (27%) of cotton items are already created with PSCP cotton. A further 4% is manufactured from organic cotton, while 2% is created from recycled cotton.
Alison Ward, CEO at CottonConnect, said that they’re happy to continue their long-standing cooperation with Primark to cooperate on the largest project of its type by any single retailer in the fashion sector. Any initiative of this magnitude is complicated, but by working closely with Primark and local partners, they are convinced that they can assist Primark's aspirations while also supporting the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. They are looking forward to the next step of this initiative and watching how it will benefit many more rural communities.
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