Reduce, reuse, recycle - our Conscious Actions

We strive to reduce, reuse and recycle wherever we can: packaging, hangers and shopping bags, for example. But the really big question is what happens to clothes when consumers no longer want them. Many countries have great systems in place to, for example, donate clothes to charities.

Still, too many clothes end up in landfills. According to a study conducted by WRAP, some 31% of all textiles in the UK end up in the garbage. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 5% of landfills in the US consist of textiles. About 95% of these could be reused or recycled. So, we need to change something about the fact that resources are extracted on one end and wasted on the other. This opens up great opportunities. A new source for making new garments with low-impact materials, for example, while reducing waste and minimising the need for land, water, chemicals and more to make virgin raw materials.

5.1 Increase the amount of collected garments, set baseline and target moving forward

Deadline 2014

  • More to do
  • On track
  • Done

Our customers can drop off any clothes they no longer want or need at almost all* H&M (brand stores) around the globe – probably the world’s biggest retail garment collecting system. During 2013, the first year of our garment collecting initiative, we gathered 3,047 tonnes of garments to give them a new life.

In 2014, we more than doubled that amount with 7,684 tonnes. In parallel, we could see in customer surveys that the awareness of this programme increased significantly amongst H&M customers from 2013 to 2014. This tells us how much we can achieve by banding together with our customers and making it easy to not let textiles go to waste. Given this steady growth and great reception from our customers, we are now setting a new target for the years ahead.

 

*For franchise markets, our minimum requirement is to include at least one store per country and for newly entered markets, the system should be up and running 6 months after the first store opening at the latest.

Show further information Hide

NEW 5.2 Make 300% more garments with recycled fabric from collected garments

Deadline 2015

  • More to do
  • On track
  • Done

It’s an important step to keep textiles from ending up in landfills. But we want to do more. We want to turn unwanted clothes into an innovative resource for new, fresh quality pieces. In short: we want to create a closed loop in fashion.

In early 2014, we took the first big steps in this mission and made the first products with at least 20% recycled material from collected garments. Since then we have launched increasingly more products containing 20% recycled cotton across our entire range. There are a number of challenges on the way to increase these figures even further, for example, import barriers for used clothes in major production markets such as Turkey or China, as well as technological challenges that currently do not allow for more than 20% of recycled cotton without quality loss. That said, we are investing in technology to overcome this challenge. For 2015, our target is to increase the number of pieces made with at least 20% recycled fabric from collected garments by more than 300% (compared to 2014) to 1.2 million pieces.

Show further information Hide

NEW 5.3 Invest in closed-loop innovation

Deadline year-to-year

  • More to do
  • On track
  • Done

There are certainly challenges on the road towards a closed loop for textiles. For example, the fact that we currently cannot make products with more than 20% recycled fabric from collected garments without a loss in quality and durability. Or that polyester fibres can’t yet be recycled into new garments without running into dyeing problems.

By creating demand for solutions and actively working with innovators and scientists, however, we are positive that we can overcome these challenges. We arecurrently involved in a number of different promising initiatives and projects. For example, together with Kering, we entered into a partnership with UK-based innovation company Worn Again, which is developing promising technologies for textile-to-textile recycling.

Show further information Hide

5.4 Recycle at least 95% of waste handled in our warehouses

Deadline 2014

  • More to do
  • On track
  • Done

The majority of the waste that we generate is handled in our warehouses. In 2014, this was around 32,000t (2013: 35,000t), mainly cardboard (65%), paper (10%) and plastic (7%).

Our goal for 2014 was to recycle 95% of this waste. We reached 91% (2013: 92%) which means that we did not meet our goal. This is mainly due to the fact that we entered new markets with less developed waste management and recycling systems. We will continue to work towards this goal from a comparably high level during 2015.

Show further information Hide

5.5 Increase the share of H&M stores that recycle the main types of store waste

Deadline 2014

  • More to do
  • On track
  • Done

While much of the waste generated in our stores is sent to our warehouses and recycled from there, we want to make sure that the remaining waste is also handled in the best possible way.

We are focusing on our largest brand’s stores, H&M, and the most common types of waste, namely cardboard, plastic and paper. Much depends on existing recycling systems in the community or the building where we rent space, for example. While these can pose serious challenges locally, over the last year we further increased the share of stores that have recycling systems for these waste types in place to 58%* (2013:56%). Our aim is to further increase this share and ultimately reach 100%.

 

*Extrapolation based on data available for 93% (2013: 90%) of H&M (brand) stores.

Show further information Hide

NEW 5.6 Use recycled polyester equivalent to at least 60 million PET bottles

Deadline 2015

  • More to do
  • On track
  • Done

In our collections, we use a range of recycled materials, such as recycled cotton, wool and polyester. Recycled materials in particular have two major benefits – they reduce the need for extracting virgin resources and less waste ends up in landfills.

Recycled polyester, for example, does not need any of our world’s limited oil resources, but instead is usually made from PET bottles that might otherwise have ended up in landfills. In 2014, we used recycled polyester equivalent to nearly 40 million PET bottles (2013: 9.5 million, 2012: 7.9 million). Even though this is a considerable amount, recycled material still has a lot more potential and currently represents 0.2%, of our total material use, a figure that we expect to increase as we move closer to a closed loop for textiles in the coming years. So, drop your PET bottles at your nearest recycling station and we might bring them back as new, fresh fashion!

 


>hm.com/carrierbags

Show further information Hide

Garment collecting

Don’t let fashion go to waste – give your old clothes a new life.

Closing the loop

Our goal is to produce fashion in a closed loop, using less of our planet's resources and reducing waste instead.

Carrier bags

Our studies showed that recycled plastic is the best material for carrier bags from an environmental perspective. Surprised?

Waste management

We aim to minimise all types of waste. Our general requirement is that all waste should be reused or recycled.

Packaging

We are constantly looking to find better solutions for product and transport packaging.
 

H&M uses cookies to give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use our services, we'll assume that you're happy with this. Find out more about cookies