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H&M sees minimal increase in use of recycled and sustainably-sourced materials

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 “Recycling technology is still not available at scale for most of our fibres or for blended fibres.”

A total of 57.1% of all materials used by the H&M Group come from either recycled or sustainable sources, according to figures highlighted in its 2019 Sustainability Report.

This is a slight increase from the year before, where the fashion giant used 57% of recycled or sustainably-sourced materials in its material mix.

The Swedish fashion giant’s Sustainability Report was published on 2 April. The Group owns the eponymous H&M chain as well as & Other Stories, Weekday and Cos.

H&M (@hm) has an overall goal to use 100% recycled or sustainably-sourced materials in its products by 2030.

At present, 54.9% of the Group’s material mix is sourced from sustainable origins that are verified by third-party bodies. The remaining 2.2% of the mix comes from recycled sources. In 2018, the latter figure stood at 1.4%. In a statement, H&M said: “We want to increase this further by scaling the use of recycled materials going forward. We also bought less cotton by volume, which reduced the proportion of this particular sustainably-sourced material in our products.”

According to H&M, the “the lower volume of cotton bought in 2019 was partly as a result of improved planning and forecasting, enabling us to better match the required amount of material to actual customer demand”.

The fashion giant acknowledged that it needed to “stay focused on making larger gains in future years to reach our goal of 100% recycled or other sustainably-sourced materials by 2030 — for example by continuing to develop innovative textiles and working on scalable recycling solutions”.

Other highlights from its 2019 report included the fact 97% of its cotton comes from certified sources or from recycled sources. It has also made a pledge not to use conventional cotton for its collections from 2020 onwards.

Elsewhere, H&M said its Circular Innovation Lab ran a pilot project with Finnish biotechnology firm Infinited Fiber Company, which led to a subsequent CO:LAB investment and to a first proof of concept of a sustainable cellulosic fibre made from recycled cotton textiles.

Its fashion brand Weekday created two showcase pieces with this cotton-like fabric made from used textiles. We are looking into how to scale this initiative.

Other recycling highlights for its brands during 2019 include:

– ARKET: recycled nylon “Econyl” and recycled down.

– H&M: recycled cotton in denim products, and a range of recycled materials (e.g. polyester, wool, cashmere) in the Autumn 2019 Conscious Exclusive collection.

– H&M Home: various products, including recycled cotton and recycled polyester rugs.

– Monki: recycled polyamide and recycled polyester swimwear.

– Weekday: recycled cotton, cotton dye and polyester in the Recover collection, as well as recycled plastic sunglasses, and swimwear made from recycled polyamide and polyester.

Looking forward, H&M maintained that “recycling technology is still not available at scale for most of our fibres or for blended fibres. We’ll continue to focus on investing and collaborating with start-ups, peers, and organisations such as the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) to accelerate progress in this area”.

Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability H&M Group, said: “I am proud of all the progress we did in 2019. Looking ahead, not only our industry will continue changing rapidly, but also the world as a whole. This 2020 has started with a challenge we never saw before with the spread of COVID-19 affecting the whole world, companies and societies.

“I am confident that the long-term vision we always had, and will continue having, on sustainability will play an – even more – crucial role in facing these challenges. It will be more important than ever to continue our journey towards a circular economy and sustainable consumption while creating prosperity through job opportunities. This report is only a summary of the great effort all our colleagues around the world do every day to change the future of fashion.”


If you were interested in this bioeconomy story, you may be interested in the ones below.

Read: H&M to unveil wine waste-based vegan leather.

Read: 5 Minutes With… Mattias Bodin from H&M

Read: Ikea and H&M group collaborate on ‘chemicals in recycled textiles’ study.

Read: Stora Enso bring bio-based lignin to market as a replacement for oil-based phenolic materials.

Read: New textile fibre aims to combine sustainability with performance.

Read: Burberry unveils new collection made from recycled waste.

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