Adidas Aims for Sustainable Cotton

Cotton is one of the world's most widely used crops, and the apparel company Adidas wants to make sure the cotton in their products comes from cotton farms that don't harm the environment or the people who harvest the cotton.  In March 2011, Adidas announced their strategy to switch to sustainable cotton.

Cotton From Sustainable Sources
Adidas is switching to sustainable cotton over a seven-year time-line.  By 2015, 40% of the cotton used in Adidas products will come from a sustainable source.  By 2018, the company expects 100% of their cotton to be sustainable.  Adidas will not produce specialized products that contain only sustainable cotton, but by 2018, sustainable cotton will be the standard for all apparel manufactured by Adidas.

Much of the world's cotton is farmed by workers who do not receive fair wages or fair treatment, and may even be a result of child and/or slave labor.  Irrigation and pesticide practices in cotton farming can compromise the viability of the soil and local water systems.  In an effort to use cotton that does not promote these non-sustainable practices, Adidas plans to source their cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).

The Better Cotton Initiative aims to decrease the health and environmental impact of water and pesticide use in cotton farming, improve conditions for cotton workers, and help the supply chain for cotton be more transparent so companies know where their cotton is coming from.  The BCI is currently making a difference in cotton farms in Brazil, India, Pakistan and West Africa, and hopes to move into China by 2012.  The BCI receives their funding from a variety of sources, including conservation groups such as World Wildlife Fund, labor rights organizations such as Farmers Associates Pakistan, and apparel manufacturers such as Adidas, Levi-Stauss and Nike.

Adidas' Larger Sustainability Efforts
Adidas AG, based out of Germany, ranked number 423 on the 2009 Global 1000 list, which evaluates companies based on corporate responsibility.  Adidas AG products, including apparel, footwear and sports equipment are marketed under the brands adidas, Reebok, Rockport and TaylorMade-adidas Golf.

Cotton is not the only aspect of their supply chain that Adidas is interested in making more sustainable.  Adidas is working to source their leather from more sustainable sources, also with a 2015 target, and is looking to reduce their power and water usage.  Adidas is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, an organization comprised of both apparel corporations and non-profit conservation groups that are attempting to reduce the environmental impact of the apparel industry's supply chain.

Photo Credit:  Blundstoneboy