Our Responsibility Programme Director, Pauline Bohl, spoke at the BCI Global Cotton Conference in Brussels, discussing how to increase demand for sustainably sourced cotton in our industry. The event, hosted by the Better Cotton Initiative, a not-for-profit that focuses on making global cotton production better for producers and the environment, brought together the entire sector to discuss how we can collaborate to create a more sustainable cotton industry.
Used in many of our products today, cotton is one of Burberry’s most significant raw materials. It is the fibre used to make gabardine, the breathable and weatherproof fabric that was invented by our founder, Thomas Burberry, in 1879. Woven in our Yorkshire Mill, gabardine has been used to create our iconic Heritage Trench Coats for over 100 years.
Last year, we set ourselves ambitious targets to improve the sustainability and traceability of our raw materials. As part of our commitment to driving positive change through all Burberry products, we are aiming to source 100% of our cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative by 2022. As well as working with BCI, we engaged with our supply chain partners, NGOs, academics and internal and external stakeholders to establish our responsible sourcing strategy for cotton. We are only one year into our new five-year Responsibility strategy, and are already sourcing 21% of our cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative.
Over the past two years, we have been working with BCI to build industry-wide awareness and knowledge about cotton production. In 2017, we partnered with the BCI and other brand members to run supply chain training and engagement days in Italy and Portugal, giving our suppliers the opportunity to learn more about the future challenges facing cotton production and find out how they can be part of the solution. We will be hosting another event this year to engage more key suppliers.
Burberry is a member of Cotton 2040, a cross-industry initiative which aims to encourage the use of sustainably grown cotton and ensure supply for the future. To coincide with the BCI Global Cotton Conference, Cotton2040 launched its new CottonUP guide, a digital toolkit encouraging brands and retailers to source more sustainable cotton and advising them on the achievements and learnings of leading brands in this area. Burberry’s responsible sourcing strategy for cotton is showcased in the CottonUP guide as an example of best practice, and as inspiration to brands looking to source more sustainable cotton.