TfL uniforms to feature Fairtrade cotton in new partnership deal

A TFL worker wearing a Fairtrade cotton uniform

The Fairtrade Foundation and Transport for London (TfL) have announced a five year partnership deal to source Fairtrade cotton for all cotton in its staff uniforms. The announcement comes at the close of Fairtrade Fortnight (29th February – 13th March), the Fairtrade Foundation’s annual publicity campaign which is calling for more support for marginalised farmers.

TfL is the first UK company and public sector body to source cotton under the new Fairtrade Cotton Sourcing Programme, which specifically aims to deliver wider market opportunities for cotton farmers to sell on Fairtrade terms and connect them with businesses that actively support efforts to improve farmers’ livelihood. The commitment builds on TfL’s commitment to sustainable procurement.

Cotton is grown in more than 100 countries, and plays a major role in the economic and social welfare of developing and newly industrialised countries. However, despite supplying the raw commodity that the multi-billion dollar global clothing and textile industries depend on, growing cotton is failing to provide millions of poor rural households in developing countries with a sustainable and profitable livelihood. With high levels of illiteracy and limited land holdings, many cotton farmers live below the poverty line and are dependent on the middle men or ginners who buy their cotton, often at prices below the cost of production.

By offering Fairtrade cotton products, businesses contribute to a more sustainable future for cotton farmers, their communities and the environment. 

The move is benefitting Fairtrade farmers from Pratima Agro Fairtrade co-operative in Orissa, India who are investing certification premiums in projects to enable women to build businesses and market goods so they have their own independent income.

The first order of 100,000 items of Fairtrade cotton staff uniform pieces was placed in 2015 and has been rolled out for TfL staff to wear in stations from November to date. The move follows TfL’s launch of their new, modern uniforms designed by Hemingway Design led by Wayne Hemingway MBE and Gerardine Hemingway which were introduced last spring. The new uniform took on board comments and suggestions from over 200 staff on comfort, durability, sustainability and attention to detail.

Euan Venters, Commercial Director of the Fairtrade Foundation said: “I hope TfL is the first of many organisations and brands to source Fairtrade cotton in this way, as we know how Fairtrade can significantly change the lives of cotton farmers when they receive fairer rewards for their efforts. Farmers constantly tell us they are keen to sell more of their crops on Fairtrade terms, so this is great way to celebrate the close of Fairtrade Fortnight 2016.”

TfL is committed to sourcing its products and services ethically.  It is the first public sector organisation to join the Ethical Trading Initiative, an alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers' rights around the globe.

For Fairtrade Foundation media enquiries contact Martine Parry: 020 7440 7695/07886 301486 martine.parry@fairtrade.org.uk.

For TfL Media Enquiries contact the main press office number:  0845 604 4141 www.tfl.gov.uk/media

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Notes to Editors

The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. This independent consumer label appears on products to show that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal from trade. Today, more than 1.65 million people – farmers and workers – across more than 74 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.

Over 5,000 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney, rice, quinoa, herbs & spices, seeds, nuts, wines, ales, rum, confectionery, muesli, cereal bars, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cotton wool, olive oil, gold, silver and platinum.

TfL commitment is outlined in its Ethical Sourcing Policy: https://tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/tfl-ethical-sourcing-policy.pdf.