Primark announces major expansion of its Sustainable Cotton Programme, intending to train 275,000 cotton farmers in more sustainable farming by 2023

Expansion of programme shows further progress towards Primark’s commitment that all cotton in Primark’s clothes will be organic, recycled or from its Sustainable Cotton Programme by 2027.

  • Primark pledges to add 125,000 more smallholder farmers to its Sustainable Cotton Programme, taking the total number of farmers to over 275,000 by the end of 2023
  • This will expand the number of farmers in the programme by over 80%, having already trained nearly 150,000 farmers across India Bangladesh and Pakistan.
  • This expansion is expected to increase the amount of sustainable cotton available for Primark products by 60%.
  • Already, more than a quarter (27%) of Primark’s cotton clothing is sourced from the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme, which is fully traceable from a farmers’ village to shop-floor.
  • Primark's Sustainable Cotton Programme trains farmers on using fewer chemical pesticides and fertilisers and less water, thereby lowering input costs and improving profits for the farmer.

Primark has today announced a major expansion of its Sustainable Cotton Programme – it has committed to train an additional 125,000 smallholder cotton farmers in more sustainable farming methods in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh by the end of 2023, dramatically increasing the availability of sustainable cotton for its products by 60%. This will bring the total number of farmers in the PSCP to over 275,000, an expansion of over 80%, cementing its position as the largest of its kind of any single fashion retailer.

Primark developed the programme and launched the first pilot in India in 2013 in collaboration with agronomic experts, Cotton Connect, and the grassroots organisation, the Self-Employed Women’s Association, with the aim of reducing its impact on the environment, changing the way the business sources its cotton and improving the livelihoods of farmers. Since then the programme has expanded to Pakistan and Bangladesh with the expertise of local in market partners*, and has already trained almost 150,000 smallholder farmers, 80% of whom are women.

Primark’s sustainable cotton is grown through a unique process using CottonConnect’s REEL (responsible environment enhanced livelihoods) Programme. Cotton farmers are trained over three years to address an over dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides in order to preserve the biodiversity and help mitigate against climate change. The programme helps build a transparent and resilient supply chain, which gives back to local farming communities.

On average, farmers in the programme use 40% less chemical pesticides and fertilisers and 10% less water used by acre, with a 14% increase in yield and growth in profits by 200%**. Moving forward, the programme will be focused on restoring biodiversity, committing that the it will adopt more regenerative practices by 2030.

The programme supports the Primark commitment that 100% of the cotton in Primark’s clothes will be sourced from the Sustainable Cotton Programme, organic or recycled by 2027 and its commitment to make all its products from recycled fibres or more sustainably sourced materials by 2030. Currently almost 40% of Primark clothing is made from recycled fibres or more sustainably sourced materials. Cotton is the most commonly used fibre in Primark clothes - over half of all Primark clothing clothes are made primarily from cotton - and already today, over a quarter (27%) of cotton clothes are made using PSCP cotton. A further 4% are made from organic cotton, and 2% from recycled cotton.

All of these products can be easily found by customers in stores by looking for the blue heart of the Primark Cares label, located across all departments from denim to duvet covers, t-shirts to towels across women’s, menswear, kids and homeware.

Lynne Walker, Director at Primark Cares, said:
“We developed our Sustainable Cotton programme with our partners almost a decade ago to reduce the impact on the environment, support farmer livelihoods and improve the way we source our cotton. We’re proud of how far it’s come, evolving into the largest of its kind of any single fashion retailer. It has taken time to build a programme of this scale, and the positive impact it has had on the livelihoods of thousands of farmers means we can continue its expansion - benefitting more farmers and supporting our ambition to offer our customers more sustainable options at Primark”.

“Our sustainable cotton programme plays an integral role in our long-term vision to make more sustainable clothes affordable for everyone. Over half of our clothes are made with cotton, so by further increasing the number of farmers, we will be able to meet our commitment that all the cotton in our clothing will be organic, recycled or from our programme by 2027.”

Alison Ward, CEO at CottonConnect, said:
"We are pleased to further our long-standing partnership with Primark to collaborate on the largest programme of its kind by any single retailer in the fashion industry. Any programme at such scale is complex, but working in close collaboration with Primark and the local partners means we are confident we can support Primark’s ambitions and support the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. We look forward to the next stage of this programme and seeing the positive impact it will have for many more farming communities.”

Reema Nanavaty, Leader of the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) and RUDI*** said:
“By partnering with Primark and CottonConnect, we have been able to strengthen the knowledge of women on sustainable cotton farming methods. Through our training, we’ve been able to help the farmers reduce production costs, adopt more environmentally friendly farming methods, and ultimately increase their earnings. This programme is proof of how long-term investment in farmers can help build financial resilience for themselves, their families, and communities. It’s incredible to see how far this programme has come since 2013 where we started with around 1,200 female cotton farmers in India, to where it is today, improving the livelihoods of more and more farmers across India”.

To ensure traceability of cotton from the programme, Primark has continued its partnership with Oritain to verify the origin of PSCP cotton. Using forensic science, Oritain is able to identify cotton from the programme, giving further reassurance to Primark and its customers that the cotton has come from within the programme.

For more information on the PSCP, visit www.primark.com/en-gb/primark-cares.

ENDS

* Primark’s local implementation partners now also include the Rural Education and Economic Development (REEDS) Society in Pakistan and Thengamara Mohila Sabuj Sangha (TMSS) in Bangladesh.

** Percentages are in comparison to control farmers. Average results from the Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme in India, 2013-2019, based on results from 6,274 programme farmers and 363 control farmers over the same period.

*** RUDI is an agri-business initiative created and operated by SEWA women members. It procures produce from smallholder farmers, adding value to that stock and sells then in the community.

Notes to Editor

For more information:
Primark Press Office
Email: corporate_pr@primark.ie

About Primark

Primark is an international clothing retailer employing more than 65,000 colleagues across 14 countries in Europe and the US. Founded in Ireland in 1969 under the Penneys brand, Primark aims to provide affordable choices for everyone, from great quality everyday essentials to stand-out style across women’s, men’s and kid’s, as well as beauty, homeware and accessories. With a focus on creating great retail experiences in-store, Primark continues to expand across new and existing markets with the aim of reaching 530 stores by the end of 2026, including upcoming new markets of Romania and Slovakia.

Primark is working to make more sustainable fashion affordable for everyone and is focused on giving clothing a longer life, protecting life on the planet and improving the lives of people who make Primark products. As part of this it has unveiled a series of commitments it is working to achieve by 2030. These include making all its clothes from recycled or more sustainably sourced materials, ensuring clothing is recyclable by design, halving carbon emissions across the value chain, removing single-use plastic and pursuing a living wage for workers in the supply chain.

About CottonConnect

CottonConnect is Reimagining the future for supply chains, helping brands source more fairly and sustainably by creating more robust, resilient and successful raw material supply chains. CottonConnect helps to improve the sustainability of the world’s supply chains. This enables textile producers and raw material farmers to work more responsibly and enjoy better livelihoods. It also helps brands access more sustainable cotton and other natural fibres to create transparent, traceable and resilient supply chains that will continue to deliver the best raw materials - now and in the future. More information can be found: www.cottonconnect.org/