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H&M, C&A, Nike Top Organic Cotton Users

H&M was the biggest user of organic cotton worldwide for the second consecutive year in 2011, according to Textile Exchange’s latest Organic Cotton Market Report.

Dutch retail chain C&A, Nike and fashion retailer Zara, the flagship store of Inditex Group, hold the no. 2, no. 3 and no. 4 places on the list, respectively, each for the second year in a row. Anvil Knitwear comes in fifth place, knocking Adidas out of the top 10.

Walmart did not submit data for the second year in a row, Textile Exchange says.

H&M continued to increase its already world-leading use of organic cotton, as part of its strategic goal to only use sustainable cotton by 2020.

Although 81 percent of brands and retailers responding to the 2011 survey said they plan to use more organic cotton, production dropped by 37 percent — the first time organic cotton production has been down in 10 years. After peaking at 241,697 metric tons in 2010, organic cotton production fell to 151,079 metric tons in 2011, and the report forecasts it will drop again in 2012, to 143,600 metric tons.

Textile Exchange says this shows a disconnect between supply and demand, and although companies say they plan to increase organic cotton options, most are not taking steps to communicate this down the supply chain to farmers.

H&M started using organic cotton in 2004 and since 2007 has offered 100-percent organic cotton garments. In 2011, the company increased its use of organic cotton by nearly 100 percent, and organic cotton now represents 7.6 percent of the company’s total cotton use.

The Organic Cotton Market Report doesn’t say how much organic cotton H&M uses. According to the company’s 2010 sustainability report, H&M used 15,000 tons of organic cotton that year, more than three times its targeted amount.

According to H&M, its increased usage combined with Better Cotton — an initiative that reduces water and pesticide use during the cotton growing process — puts it on track to reach its goal of using only sustainable cotton by 2020.

In September, the Textile Exchange published a new chain-of-custody tool to help companies accurately label the contents of their products and provide consumers with more transparency into supply chains.

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