Circularity and our value chain

Two of the biggest challenges facing our planet today are climate change and resource depletion. Both contribute to biodiversity loss and worsen existing human rights problems. ​As a global fashion company, we have a significant impact on the health of our planet, which is why we want to be climate positive by 2040.

This means moving from a linear model — take, use, waste — to a circular model in which resources stay in use for as long as possible before being converted into new products and materials. 

To create less waste and reduce harmful impact we are building a circular ecosystem. Our strategy supports the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s vision for a circular economy and covers all parts of our business, products and customer offer, supply chain, and non-commercial goods such as packaging and items used in store interiors, offices and distribution centres. 

Our circular approach is designed to user fewer resources throughout our value chain, create less waste, produce less CO2 and increase the lifespan of our products.

We have three focus areas:

Circular products

We are creating products that are made to last from safe, recycled and sustainably sourced materials that can recirculate multiple times.​

This means identifying, testing and scaling new solutions.​

Our goals include using 100% recycled or sustainably sourced materials by 2030 (30% recycled materials by 2025).

Key activities include:

  • Circular Design Guidelines​
  • Innovative new materials​
  • Collaboration with external partners

Circular supply chain

We are building systems that recirculate products and support circular production processes and material flows.

Key activities include:​

Circular customer journey

We want our customers to be a part of our circular fashion ecosystem.​

By developing new business models and creating shared services and collaborative platforms
we are using the power of technology to enable sustainable choices.​

We’re investing in experiences and services so we can engage with our customers in new ways and give them more choices.

Key activities include:​

  • Testing new circular business models
  • Circular and climate-positive stores​
  • Circular packaging
  • Garment collecting 2.0

Our value chain covers everything necessary to make, market, repair, reuse and recycle a product or service. It connects us with countless people, communities, ecosystems and other businesses around the world and means our social, environmental and economic impact is significant and far-reaching. 

To make our presence as positive as possible and lead our industry towards a sustainable future, our circular approach reaches all parts of our value chain.

Raw materials

By 2030 we will only use recycled or other sustainably sourced raw materials. Processing raw materials such as cotton is often associated with concerns for working conditions and intense water and chemical use. By choosing sustainably sourced cotton and other materials, like recycled polyester or lyocell, we can significantly reduce our impact.

Fabric and yarn production

From making yarn to final fabrics, there are concerns regarding water, chemicals, carbon emissions and working conditions. Generally, we do not have direct business relationships with mills, but we work with organisations such as WWF and the Swedish Textile Water Initiative to help suppliers improve their sustainability performance. We are integrating all identified fabric and yarn mills involved in making our products into our Sustainable Impact Partnership Programme. We operate one of the strictest Chemical Restrictions Lists in the industry. 

Garment production

H&M group does not own any factories − instead we work with independent suppliers. Many of our products are made in some of the world’s poorest countries, and garment production is often the first step out of poverty for many of these countries. Together with our suppliers, we have made great improvements in developing better social and environmental standards in factories. Achieving fair living wages, reducing overtime and ensuring workplace safety are key focus areas. 

We collaborate with the International Labour Organization (ILO), IndustriALL Global Union and Swedish trade union IF Metall to encourage and facilitate dialogue between factory owners and textile workers and enable democratically elected worker representation.

We are working together with our suppliers to reduce water consumption by 25% per unit produced by 2022. 

Transport

By choosing the right modes of transport and placing orders closer to sales markets, we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We use ships and trains to transport over 90% of our products from suppliers to our warehouses. We also set standards to encourage the transport companies we use to reduce their social and environmental impact and collaborate on solutions such as electrical trucks and bicycles for last-mile delivery to customers. 

Sales

As we grow, enter new markets, and employ new people, we need to make sure we live up to our values across the organisation and ensure an inspiring and healthy working environment. For example, 96% of the electricity used in our stores, offices and warehouses comes from renewable sources. We ensure the privacy of personal data and we advertise responsibly.   ​​

Customers

Washing and drying our clothes accounts for 13% of a garment’s total carbon emissions over its lifecycle. We want to inspire our customers to be conscious of the way they care for their clothes. For example, washing garments at 30°C instead of 60°C and hanging the laundry to dry cuts energy use — and saves money.

Reuse and recycling

Most of our brands offer garment collection because we consider it our job to make it as easy as possible for our customers to recycle. 

We’re also testing new ways to prolong the life of garments by investing in re-sale, restoring damaged garments and offering rental services. Read more about these new business models. 

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