“To secure future business it is essential and natural for us to address sustainability actively,” says H&M’s CEO Karl-Johan Persson.
Swedish clothing retailer, H&M, has released its latest sustainability report and in doing so has given inside looks into the efforts by the group to further lessen its effect on the environment.
The chain has been working on becoming a fully circular model, meaning the company is trying to divert waste from landfill back into manufacturing to be reused in new items.
The company says that innovations are the key to achieving full circularity, which it says is the reason it supports initiatives that are working to help reach that goals.
Clothing manufacturing will never not be without its issues, even fully circular models need production and ample resources on top of what they are reusing. Yet creating a circular model is a noble cause towards lessen the strain it creates on the environment.
H&M uses 1,668 supplier factories around the world, and according to its report its biggest climate and water impacts come from producing raw materials (87 percent water impact) and fabric production (46 percent climate impact). Now the company boasts that 100 percent of its Bangladesh companies have worker representatives.
Water impact remains the same from the 2016 report, with fabric production dropping 1 percent.
Yet H&M has seen a larger growth towards its vision of a full circular model in recent years. Last year’s report showed that since 2013 the chain had collected almost 39,000 tonnes of garments in stores, this year’s report show that number has increased by 17,771. However, the report did not mention how many tonnes of product the the company manufactures.
In the 2016 report, H&M said that it was the world’s biggest user of the Better Cotton Initiative, the 2017 report shows more detailed figures, saying 59 percent of the cotton sourced is done so sustainably.
The group has further plans to increase its sustainability measures; by 2030 it says it will only use 100 percent recycled or sustainabily sourced materials, and plans to achieve a climate positive value chain by 2040.
Head of sustainability for the group, Anna Gedda, says the new strategy has been received well in the wake of the conscious consumer.
But can fast fashion ever be fully sustainable? Gedda says it can, yet stresses that industry wide collaboration is necessary for systemic change.
“The main challenges we face are not specific to H&M group, they are industry-wide. Therefore, solutions cannot be reached by us alone. Our goal to become 100 percent fair and equal is very much dependent on industry collaborations.”
H&M have managed to get 100 percent of its commercial business partners to sign its code of ethics. Yet continues to focus on improving conditions in its 1,668 supplier factories.
H&M is involved with the Ethical Fashion Report, and in 2017 scored a A+ for both policies in place and supplier knowledge. Yet only scored a C+ for worker empowerment, a lot which related to how workers voices are heard through trade unions.
It is expected with new polices and a focus on workers for 2018 that H&M will do the same if not better for the 2018 Ethical Trade Survey.