Like most clothing companies, we use a lot of cotton. Cotton currently accounts for 86 percent of the fibers used in our garments (based on number of units and percentage of cotton in them). Although widely popular with the consumers, conventional cotton as a fibre poses considerable sustainability challenges. Significant amounts of chemicals are used to cultivate cotton and to extract the fibres. In addition, large quantities of water are required to grow and process cotton.
Our target is that by 2019 at least 70% of our range, for products developed that year, will carry sustainable material, and that conventional cotton will be phased out. The target for 2016 was that for products in range developed at least 15 percent of underwear products and at least 10 percent of sports apparel would carry sustainable fibre. For collections developed in 2017 target is max at least 25 % of range, for all products developed during the year, will carry sustainable fibre.
What we are doing to achieve our goal
In 2016 – and building on the organic cotton men’s underwear collection in 2015 – we started our roll-out of sustainable fibre in our collections. During the year, we developed the Autumn/Winter 2017 collection and the X-mas 2017 collection carrying around 15-20% percent better fibres, meeting the target we set for the year, for both underwear and sports apparel. During the year, we also finalized our Sustainable Material Roll-out Plan, specifying the Action Plan, including overall direction and action steps, for the continued roll out of better fibre to meet our long-term target of 70%. The plan reflects a step-by-step approach to increasing the share of sustainable fibre. Our definition of sustainable fibre is that it shall be Class A or B according to the Sustainable Fibre Benchmark of not for profit sustainability organization Made-By (see table above), which has become a widespread and generally accepted benchmark for better fibre classification.
Made-By’s fibre benchmark has been a natural starting point for us, especially since we have partnered with Made-By in developing our Sustainability Roadmap and our Sustainable Material Roll-out Plan. During the year, we held an internal training on sustainable materials for the design, product development and souring team together with Made-By. We need to be knowledgeable about different options and their implications to integrate sustainable fibre options naturally into design, product development and sourcing.
In 2016 we also performed a capacity baselining of our current suppliers, mapping their ability to support us in our long-term efforts on moving to more sustainable material. It will be key for us to partner with the right production partners. From 2017 and onwards we will integrate the Sustainable Material Roll-out Plan into colletion planning and sourcing. For example, we will double source all new styles, in conventional and sustainable fibre respectively, and for each collection we will challenge ourselves on what measures may be necessary to enable a particular product or style to carry sustainable material. Our focus will remain on transitioning to better cotton alternatives, but also on increasingly replace for example virgin polyester with recycled polyester. In 2017 we will also start mapping sustainable trim options, to be able to set an improvement plan for more sustainable trims as well going forward.
Early in 2017 Björn Borg joined the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) as members. See more about BCI here.