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H&M reports “strong progress” towards sustainability

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Swedish fashion chain H&M has stated in its annual sustainability report that it has shown “strong progress” towards its goal to only use sustainable materials, as 57 percent of all materials used by H&M Group to make its products were created using recycled or other sustainably sourced fibres.

Anna Gedda, head of sustainability at H&M Group, said in a statement: “From the beginning, our role has been to democratise fashion. Today, that means making it sustainable: it’s the only way we’ll keep making great fashion and design available today, tomorrow and for generations to come. We will continue our work to lead the change towards a sustainable fashion industry.”

The report highlights that the fashion group is progressing to its wider goal towards becoming a circular and renewable brand, as in 2018, 57 percent of all materials used was recycled or other sustainably sourced fibres, an increase of 35 percent from 2017. While for cotton the figure was 95 percent, close to the company’s goal to reach 100 percent by 2020.

“Recycled materials are truly a win-win: they stop waste material from going to landfill and reduce the use of virgin raw materials,” added Cecilia Brännsten, environmental sustainability manager at H&M Group. “However, for many types of textiles, viable recycling solutions either do not exist or are not commercially available on a large scale. We are therefore collaborating with scientists and innovators to tackle this change, but at the same time working to increase other sustainably sourced materials as quickly as possible.”

H&M Sustainability Report reveals that 57 percent of all materials used by the fashion group are sustainable

The report also notes that it is continuing to move towards “greater product transparency” by adding further information to its products on its website for both H&M and H&M Home. This information will allow customers to find out which factory the products were produced, as well as further information on material composition and solutions for re-using and recycling products that are worn-out.

Other highlights from 2018 includes the group reducing its CO2 emissions from its operations by a further 11 percent, which it adds it aims to take even further by setting a new goal to reduce the absolute GHGemissions in the company’s own operations by another 40 percent by 2030. The new goal is part of its vision to become climate positive by 2040, which was approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative.

In addition, H&M has extended its ‘Take Care’ concept, which aims to educate consumers on how to take better care of their garments, from its initial pilot in Hamburg, Germany in April 2018 to a further four markets. The concept offers customers guidance, repair services and products to care for their garments so they can live a longer life.

The group has also set itself a new goal with regards its packaging, adding that it should be all made from 100 percent recycled or sustainably sourced materials by 2030, while it is continuing to develop a new water roadmap, supported by WWF, which includes the goal to reduce water usage by 25 percent in production and to recycle 15 percent of wastewater back into production processes by 2022.

H&M to promote fair living wages with IndustriALL and ACT

Another key area for the fashion chain in the report is the promotion of fair living wages within the industry by building collaborations and it is part of a coalition with 22 brands and IndustriALL, a global trade union representing the textile workers, and platform ACT to transform the textile industry by promoting collective bargaining agreements, that are supported by brands’ responsible purchasing practices. All brands within ACT have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which commits them to ensure that their purchasing practices facilitate the payment of a living wage.

“The fact that 22 global brands have come together to tackle the issue of wages in the textile industry makes ACT a really ground-breaking coalition. It’s a true game-changer for the industry, paving the way for collective bargaining agreements and making it possible to find solutions at industry level which will stand the test of time. By ensuring that brands’ purchasing practices are included in the equation, a crucial step in creating a solid foundation for fair living wages has been taken,” added Jenny Fagerlin, global social sustainability manager at H&M Group.

Images: H&M Conscious Collection courtesy of H&M

H&M Group