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H&M Releases Latest Sustainability Report

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Leadership & Transparency

Hennes & Mauritz AB, better known as H&M recently released its Conscious Actions Sustainability Report for 2010. Supplier compliance last year with H&M standards increased four percentages points to 81 percent. The clothing company works with about 700 suppliers in 30 countries, according to Just Style.

“With size comes responsibility and influence. I want our customers always to feel that we do our best to ensure that the fashion we offer has been made, transported and sold responsibly. To achieve this, transparency is key and our Sustainability Report is an important tool to show our progress and challenges,” said Karl-Johan Persson, CEO at H&M.

By 2020, the company wants all of the cotton used in its products to come from sustainable sources. The report lays out the ways that H&M is striving to meet that goal which includes educating farmers on sustainable practices. Last year, the company educated 68,000 cotton farmers on sustainable farming practices through the company’s Better Cotton Initiative.

The report also lists progress H&M has made in reaching its goal. A total of 15,000 tons of organic cotton was used in its products last year, representing a 77 percent increase from 2009. In 2009, the company ranked five for its organic cotton use. A press release stated that H&M is “one of the largest users of organic cotton in the world.”

The Swedish clothing company is using more recycled materials in its clothing, according to the report. H&M used a total 1,600 tons of recycled materials in its clothing last year. Textile remnants from the Lanvin for H&M Collection were used to create the Waste Collection. In addition, H&M started using reusable transport boxes to deliver products from distribution centers to stores, and 100 percent of all paper used in its mail order catalogs has the eco-label, EU Flower.

H&M made progress in reducing its water and energy use. According to the report, it saved 50 million liters of water used in its denim production, and 75 percent of non-drinking water usage in one of its biggest distribution centers comes from rainwater. The company reduced energy use per square meter in all of its stores by eight percent from 2007 to 2010, and its goal is to reduce energy  use by 20 percent by 2020.

"We have started to look at the carbon and water use impact of our products across their entire life cycle," head of CSR Helena Helmersson said. "In the future, being at the forefront of sustainability will mean aiming both to be carbon neutral and to produce zero waste."

H&M introduced more sustainable products last year, including its first cosmetics brand made of certified organic ingredients. H&M also launched the Garden Collection last spring, which a press release stated is “made of environmentally conscious materials.” The clothing company also produced 90 percent of its bags and 450,000 pairs of shoes with water-based adhesives instead of solvent-based ones.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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