In November 2020, Ethical Consumer searched Aldi South Group website for a cotton sourcing policy.
The company's International Buying Policy for Cotton was downloaded. This document outlined the company's target to source 100% sustainable cotton in the future:
"By 2025, we will [...] require the cotton used for our own-brand products to be of either recycled origin or certified according to one of the following internationally recognised sustainability standards:• FAIRTRADE • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)• Organic Content Standard (OCS) 100/blended• Cotton made in Africa (CmiA)• Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)"
The company was not a signatory to RSN but had a detailed public commitment regarding sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan:
"We prohibit our business partners from using cotton sourced from countries where cultivation and harvesting are systematically associated with human rights violations. For example, ALDI has contractually prohibited the use of cotton grown in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan for the production of its merchandise."
As a result of its policy, the company retained full marks in the Human Rights category due to the commitment not to source from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Although the target to source 100% of its cotton from certified sustainable sources was commendable, due to the fact this target was not yet attained, Aldi South Group was marked down under the Pollution & Toxics and Controversial Technology categories for the reasons outlined below.
The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.
According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.