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March 18, 2022

Boohoo Group, CottonConnect team on sustainable cotton

UK online fashion retailer Boohoo Group has partnered with agricultural experts CottonConnect to build a transparent cotton supply chain out of Pakistan.

By Beth Wright

Boohoo Group will work with CottonConnect in Pakistan to produce its REEL (responsible environment enhanced livelihoods) cotton, creating a more transparent supply chain that allows the business to trace the cotton used to make its garments back to the village it was grown in.

CottonConnect works to help global brands source more fairly and sustainably by creating more robust, resilient and successful raw material supply chains. It has trained 2,500 farmers about the benefits of more sustainable cotton production and good business practices.

Boohoo Group, which confirmed it plans to grow its own sustainable cotton in Pakistan last summer, says the CottonConnect partnership educates farmers about the benefits of more sustainable production methods. It adds the farmers themselves say this produces a better yield and higher net income which is allowing them to give better education and health facilities to their children.   

What’s more, nothing is wasted, as during the cleaning process, the seeds are captured and used to either be replanted or as a by-product to create cooking oil or as fuel in a local factory.

The project also empowers the farmers with the knowledge around the benefits of reducing the use of pesticides, an action which has resulted in honeybees returning to the cotton fields allowing the farmers to produce their own honey, providing an additional revenue stream.    

In addition, the process allows clear traceability with the TraceBale system providing data that enables the business to trace and track the cotton throughout the supply chain, from field to shelf.  

Boohoo Group notes such traceability also bolsters its ‘test and repeat’ model as it allows it to accurately predict customer demand for its apparel as opposed to traditional retailers who produce season collections.

“As a result, we can significantly reduce the amount of unsold stock,” the retailer says.

All apparel made with REEL cotton is flagged with Boohoo Group’s Ready For the Future’ label. 

“We are delighted to be partnering with CottonConnect and the individual farmers in Pakistan. I have been able to see the project first-hand and the benefits the CottonConnect programme provides, including in-depth training, a better yield of cotton, lower costs, and environmental benefits. We are committed to supporting the farmers and it is only year one of this partnership, we are looking forward to seeing what the future holds,” says Andrew Reaney, director of responsible sourcing and product operations. 

Abou Bakar, programme manager at CottonConnect, adds: “The key lies in empowering the smallholder farmers and landless workers who form the backbone of the rural economies to grow their incomes and improve their livelihoods by raising agriculture productivity, protecting the ecosystem as well. Sustainable practices lead towards food safety and business continuity. We have connected with the cotton farmers to bring measurable improvements in the rural livelihood and allied supply chains.” 

Earlier this week, Boohoo Group revealed it has opened a new in-house Textile & Apparel Laboratory to give the business and its suppliers better visibility of product performance

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