Reduce, reuse, recycle - our Conscious Actions

Packaging, hangers and shopping bags are all part of the retail business. That said, efficient material use and applying smart methods to reuse and recycle helps reduce waste. It also helps to decrease the need for virgin resources. Both mean fewer environmental impacts – and both can save money, too.

So, we strive to reduce, reuse and recycle across our operations. But the really big question is: What happens to clothes when consumers no longer want them? In many countries there are great systems to, for example, give unwanted clothes to charities. But still, too many clothes end up in landfill. In the UK alone, according to a study conducted by WRAP, some 31% of all textiles end up in the bin.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 5% of US landfills consist of textiles. 95% of these could be reused or recycled. So we need to change something about that virgin resources are extracted at one end and wasting on the other. This opens up great opportunities. A new source of materials for making low-impact clothes, for example. Or to reduce the waste on our planet. And to minimise the need for land, water, chemicals and more to make virgin raw materials. This is why we are aiming for nothing less than creating a closed loop for textile fibres and to find ways for turning unwanted clothes into new fashion.

5.1 Offer garment collecting systems in all H&M (brand) stores

Deadline 2013

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Since the launch of our garment collecting initiative in spring 2013, our aim was to scale this service up to cover all H&M (brand) stores globally. And so we did!

Our customers can now drop off any clothes they no longer want or need at close to 100% of H&M (brand) stores worldwide. For franchise markets, our current rule is to have at least one store per market included. Moving forward, our focus will be on implementing garment recycling systems in all new markets within six months of opening.

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

Deadline 2014

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Our aim is to increase the volume of garments that we collect. During 2013, the numbers have continuously increased over the year and reached 3,047 tonnes by year-end.

That's as much textile fabric as in about 15 million T-shirts. We will now use this data as a baseline to set a target to guide our ambitions for the coming years.

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5.3 Introduce the first closed-loop products

Deadline 2014

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We have now taken the next step in our mission to create a closed loop and have made the first products with at least 20% recycled material from collected garments.

These five denim products reached H&M (brand) stores worldwide in early 2014. We are planning to increase the use of recycled material from collected garments even more and support the research needed to make this happen.

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5.4 Join the Circular Economy 100 platform

Deadline 2013

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The Circular Economy 100 is a global platform initiated by the Ellen McArthur Foundation that brings together leading companies, emerging innovators and many more to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

In 2013, we joined this platform as one of about 40 companies collaborating on innovation in this area. It aims to develop system-level solutions addressing resource scarcity, which is in line with our aim to close the loop on textile fibres.

 

>ellenmacarthurfoundation.org

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5.5 Recycle at least 95% of the waste handled at our warehouses

Deadline 2013

  • More to do
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The majority of all the waste that we generate is handled in our warehouses. In 2013, this was around 35,000 tonnes. Our goal for 2013 was to recycle 95% of this waste.

We achieved 92% (2012: 92%). So, we will keep on working to achieve the remaining three percentage points to meet our target in 2014.

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5.6 Increase the share of stores that recycle the main types of store waste

Deadline 2014

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

Pre-conditions for this can vary largely from store to store – for example, depending on existing recycling systems in the community or building or the available space. While these can pose serious challenges locally, over the last year we have implemented recycling systems in more stores. We focus on the most important waste types, namely cardboard, plastic and paper. So far, 56%* of our stores are onboard, and all of our markets have now set individual goals to increase this share during 2014.

 

*Extrapolation based on data available for 90% of our stores during 2013

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5.7 Avoid waste by using recycled input materials to make new clothes

Deadline Year-to-Year

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We use a range of recycled materials, such as recycled cotton, wool and polyester, to make our products. Currently 0.3% of the materials we used in 2013 were recycled.

We used recycled polyester equivalent to 9.5 million PET bottles

While this percentage may sound low, the impact is still considerable. For example, the amount of recycled polyester we used this year is equivalent to 9.5 million PET bottles (2012: 7.9 million).

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5.8 Ensure that all H&M (brand) standard plastic consumer bags are made of 100% recycled input material

Deadline Year-to-Year

  • More to do
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Our most commonly-used standard bags in H&M (brand) stores are made of recycled plastic. These make up the largest number of bags that we produce within the H&M Group by far.

As our studies have shown, recycled plastic is the best choice from a lifecycle perspective. These bags require much less energy, chemicals and water to produce and take up less space in transport than, for example, paper bags. We do, however, also use paper bags in some markets where it is required, for certain campaigns and for our brands COS and & Other stories. The paper originates from well-managed forests certified by the FSC . All of our bags are recyclable and we encourage reusing and  recycling them.

>hm.com/carrierbags

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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.