While it may seem like an oxymoron to think a fast-fashion retailer can be sustainable, H&M still comes through with one of the most robust sustainability strategies in fashion. One the greatest changes in the past few years has been their recycling program whereby consumers can bring in old items which then get re-used elsewhere in the manufacturing chain.
In the H&M Conscious Actions Sustainability Report 2015 which was published last week, it showed a steady increase of sustainably sourced materials and progress when it comes to the use of renewable electricity. Yet another highlight is the signing of the Global Framework Agreement with IndustriALL Global Union and IF Metall.
“We have set the vision of becoming 100% circular. In close dialogue with experts and stakeholders we will set time-bound milestones to reach this goal. This will take us closer to our goal; to lead the change towards fully circular and sustainable fashion,” says Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability at H&M.
The 14th Sustainability Report outlines goals and achievements, but also future challenges along the product lifecycle.
Steps towards 100% recycled or other sustainably sourced materials
Since new technology and innovation is essential in reaching the goal to only use recycled or other sustainably sourced materials, H&M will work even more closely with experts and other stakeholders to push the development forward. Every year H&M increases the use of sustainably sourced materials – now representing 20% of the total material use. Since cotton is a frequently used material in textile production, H&M also gradually raises the use of sustainably sourced cotton. Organic cotton, recycled cotton and Better Cotton (certified by the BCI) made up close to one third of H&M’s cotton use in 2015, taking the company closer to its goal to only use cotton from sustainable sources by 2020. The recycled cotton comes from collected garments, such as through the H&M Garment Collecting program, while the equivalent of over 90 million PET bottles has been used to make recycled polyester.
78% renewable electricity
The share of renewable electricity of H&M’s total global electricity use increased to 78% in 2015 from 27% in 2014. At the same time, the total emissions were reduced by 56% compared to 2014. The main reason for this was the increased use of renewable electricity.
Global framework agreement with IndustriALL
H&M sees positive development when it comes to the continuous work towards fair living wages. As a part of its Fair Living Wage strategy, H&M signed a Global Framework Agreement with IndustriALL Global Union and the Swedish trade union IF Metall. It aims for a well-functioning dialogue between the employer and the employees at the supplier factories working with H&M. It supports H&M’s already existing work to promote freedom of association, collective bargaining and peaceful conflict solution – all essential in promoting fair living wages.
The entire report and a summary of its highlights are available to read and download at: hm.com/consciousactions2015