Packaging helps us get our products to our customers safely, reducing damage, waste and disappointment. But our packaging shouldn’t cause more damage than it prevents.
From its raw materials to how it is made, used and disposed of, traditional packaging is a burden on the environment. Our planet is paying the price and our industry needs to do things differently.
That’s why we are working to change the way we package our products, what we make our packaging from and what happens to our packaging after it has done its job.
To safeguard resources, stop using fossil fuels, protect our natural environment and minimise waste, we’re reducing the amount and impact of our packaging as well as making sure it never becomes waste.
By working with others, like Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s (EMF) Global Commitment on Plastic, Fashion Pact and the Pack4Good initiative by Canopy, we can drive real change across all industries.
Changing packaging needs
During 2022, we reached our plastic goals ahead of time. We reduced absolute plastic packaging volume by 44% against a 2018 baseline and used 55% post-consumer recycled plastic in our packaging.
However, since we introduced our circular packaging strategy shopping habits and our product assortment have changed. Our customers buy more online and we are selling more interior products through H&M Home. As a result, our packaging needs have changed and increased.
Therefore, we are revising our circular packaging strategy to build on what has worked, as well as adapting to the changing needs of our customers. This means looking for even more ways to reduce our impact by getting rid of unnecessary packaging, optimising its size and weight, and shifting to recycled materials where possible. And when there is no alternative to virgin material, we aim to only use sustainably sourced material such as FSC certified paper or next generation solutions, such as paper made from agricultural residues like leftover wheat straw.
Alongside this, we’ll continue to work towards our other existing goals to design 100% of packaging to be reusable or recyclable and to ensure that all packaging used in our own operations is recirculated through reuse or recycling.
What we're doing about plastic
Plastic is one of the biggest challenges facing the fashion industry. It is used in synthetic materials such as polyester, as well as hangers, hang tags, single use shopping bags and polybags used for shipping products. Where possible we are switching from single-use plastic to resuable packaging, reducing the amount of packaging we use and replacing plastic with other materials. We have also:
- Identified the different plastics we use in packaging and started to phase out the most problematic, for example we aim to eliminate polystyrene plastic by the end of 2023.
- Replaced single-use transport and production hangers with reusable versions.
- Reducing single-use polybags used for shipping products from our suppliers to distribution centres as well as swapping to FSC certified paper for certain products.
- To improve the recyclability of beauty product packaging, we aim to use a single material type or to design packaging that is easy to disassemble.
- We are phasing out plastic boxes for make-up tools and replacing them with either FSC certified paper cartons or reusable pouches.
Swapping plastic for paper
Upgrading our packaging for online purchases to FSC certified paper bags and cardboard boxes has helped us take an important step towards becoming more circular.
And by phasing out single-use plastic for online orders means we can get our products to our customers without using problematic plastic that is not always recyclable.
Products can now be packed with minimum air, so they take up less space during transport, and once customers receive their product safely, they can easily recycle the packaging.
At H&M Group, we are determined to drive change in our industry, but we can’t do it alone. Even though we have set clear goals and are on track to meet them, we need to collaborate with others to really make a difference. When it comes to packaging our biggest partners are the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Fashion Pact and Canopy, which drives the Pack4Good initiative.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
To fight plastic pollution, we have signed EMF’s Global Commitment that unites businesses in a shared vision for a circular economy for plastics. We have already achieved the goals to reduce plastic packaging volume by 25% and to use 25% recycled content ahead of the 2025 target. We are also a supporter of the joint WWF and EMF initiative, Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty, which brings together businesses and financial institutions to end plastic pollution.
Fashion Pact is a global coalition of companies committed to key environmental goals in three areas: stopping global warming, restoring biodiversity and protecting the oceans. As part of the Fashion Pact, we are working towards:
- Eliminating unnecessary and problematic plastic in consumer packaging by the end of 2025 and in business-to-business packaging by 2030
- Using 50% pre- and post- recycled plastic in consumer packaging by 2025 and in business-to-business packaging by 2030.
We support Canopy’s Pack4Good initiative, which encourages companies to think innovatively about packaging and switch to sustainable alternatives such as recycled pulp and paper or next generation packaging solutions to protect ancient and endangered forest from logging.
Our commitments include:
- Ensuring our paper-based packaging excludes fibre sourced from ancient and endangered forests by the end of 2022
- Prioritising innovative packaging design to reduce the amount of material needed
- Giving preference to paper-based packaging with high-recycled content, especially from post-consumer sources
We publish our Sustainability Disclosure annually. In this document, we set out our goals and the progress we’ve made in the previous year. Find the latest version here. More up to date information can be included on this page.