In the latest Cotton Ranking report, which rates the sustainability of the sector, around a third of the 77 cotton-using companies surveyed scored a zero.
The 2020 rankings, released by Pesticide Action Network UK, Solidaridad and WWF, reveals businesses such as Amazon, Footlocker, Max Mara, Giorgio Armani and Forever 21 all came in at the bottom of the list.
The report notes there has been “significant progress by big brands toward more sustainable cotton” but warns the divide between companies that take environmental responsibilities seriously and the companies that do not is widening.
Many big brands do not explicitly ask for sustainable cotton from their suppliers – this means despite 21% of global cotton production now being sustainable, only 5% of global production is actively bought as sustainable – the rest has to be sold as conventional cotton.
On the other end of the spectrum, the rankings placed Adidas in first position, up from sixth place in 2019 – the business now sources 100% of its cotton sustainably.
IKEA dropped from first place last year into the second spot in 2020, with H&M following in third.
Kate Norgrove, Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at WWF-UK, said: “Leading British companies are showing international leadership on sourcing cotton that doesn’t damage the environment – but the gap between the best and the rest is simply not good enough.
“More companies must choose to step up to their responsibilities and make concrete commitments to use more sustainable cotton – because in 2020, consumers know more and demand more from their favourite brands.”