Head of Sustainability at H&M Pacscal Brun is determined to meet the company's ambitious sustainability goal of being climate positive by 2040 and says H&M is keen not only to amend its own practices but also to steer the fashion industry as a whole towards a new, more sustainable ecosystem. With the volume of textiles, comes responsibility, according to Brun. The way fashion is consumed and produced today is not sustainable. We have to transform the industry we are part of. Thus, H&M’s goal is to move from a linear model to a circular one. To do this, the sustainability manager says H&M aims to keep resources in usable condition for as long as possible and then turn them into new products and materials. As a result, the Swedish company is striving to create fashion products without sacrificing durability. The goal is to make everything in its collections more durable, and circular, which means it's basically one piece made up of different parts that can be easily disassembled and recycled.
Currently, production at optimal scale and supply are two of the issues for which the company must find solutions. The development of greener materials is another area where innovation could make clothing more environmentally friendly. As it stands, the supply of recycled materials doesn’t meet the growing demand, and Brun hopes that innovation will come to the rescue, funded by a "stream" of orders in which "business creates opportunities." Tons of microplastics find their way into our oceans, via sewage, every time our clothes are washed. One solution is to educate customers to wash their clothes with bags that collect microplastics. Another solution is to find new ways of spinning fabrics so that they don't come off in the wash. From innovation to partnerships to empowering customers to be sustainable, Brun is pulling together many threads to weave this sustainability ecosystem throughout H&M's value chain. A Pledge to Ecological Materials and Ethical Sourcing Although H&M is often portrayed as the symbol of fast fashion, the company has come a long way in its social and ecological commitments and is today one of the world's most responsible fashion chains. In 2016, H&M was named the largest Better Cotton Initiative-certified global cotton consumer on the planet, and this is despite the fact that only 43% of the cotton used by H&M comes from sustainable sources. In addition, its used garment collection initiative, launched in 2013, has collected 39,000 tons of textiles. This equates to enough material to make 196 million T-shirts, according to the brand. By 2020, it aims to collect at least 25,000 tons of textiles a year. In its collaboration with Lemlem, it used organic cotton certified by the Better Cotton Initiative as well as the Global Organic Textile Standard, 80% of which is locally sourced in Africa. In addition to using dyes that are certified by OEKO-TEX®’s Standard 100.
H&M has also launched fair wage and industrial relations programs, which are aimed at improving the quality of life of workers in the textile industry. In this framework, H&M wants to implement a better wage management system in its supplier factories and train workers on issues such as labor rights. H&M is not the only clothing company to innovate in this regard. Other fashion giants have carried out sustainable projects to gain a better image in the eyes of consumers. For example, Inditex, the owner of Zara and Massimo Dutti, announced last year that it would start using new textile fibers and recycling service.