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Is H&M Leading the Way of Sustainable Fashion? Overview in Seven Points

Public By in H&M
#CSR #Reporting
After being caught destroying and throwing out piles of unsold clothes in 2010, and reported by Greenpeace as making clothes that discharge “hazardous chemicals into water when washed”, H&M’s 2011 Conscious Collection made from sustainable materials was a good start to “repair its environmental credentials”. But it is not all they achieved. Here is a quick overview of the main highlights of H&M 2011 sustainability report, to better understand how H&M try to become the new “Sustainable Fashion Leaders.”

The big news is throughout 2011, H&M has used more « {{LNK|certified organic cotton|}} » than any other company in the world, the report says, and established a target of using 100% sustainable cotton by 2020. Besides this clearly unique measure, H&M has described its commitment to sustainability in 7 points:

1> Provide Fashion for Conscious Customers: H&M have performed a 29% increase in sales of “EU flower Eco-labeled garments”. No less than 3600 hours of sustainability training have been delivered to their buyers and designers, and 2.4 million pairs of shoes have been made with “water-based adhesives.”

2> Choose and Reward Responsible Partners: H&M works with around 750 independent Asian suppliers. To ensure compliance to ethical standards, 78% of all audits performed in 2011 were unannounced. 9000 days have been invested in “sustainability activities targeting supplier factories” and over 400,000 workers in Bangladesh have been trained on their rights throughout the past 4 years. Consult our previous article for more details on H&M supply chain (sorry... but in French only).

3> Be Ethical: 72% of managers are women, over 5000 new full time jobs have been created in 2011, and the H&M board members achieved a 50/50 male female ratio.

4> Be Climate Smart: the company announced it reduced its CO² emissions by 5%, via cutting air transport, improving energy efficiency, (-11% since 2007) and implementing Led lights in new stores.

5> Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: the company’s use of reusable transport boxes are said to have saved about 400 000 trees. All of their plastic bags are 100% made from recyclables, and 90% of the paper used for mail order packages is recycled.

6> Use Natural Resources Responsibly: Following Greenpeace’s report, H&M & the green giant started working together to reduce “discharges of hazardous chemicals into the environment” - after it was proven clothes emitted a very high percentage of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) "on the first wash". (see {{LNK|Environmental Leader's Article|}})
Besides, 100 million litres of water have been saved saved compared to 2009. Thanks to sustainable cotton, 3.5 million kg less pesticide have been used.

7> Strengthen Communities: Finally, 7.1 millions have been invested to help the development of communities around H&M’s activity.
120 000 cotton farmers have been trained through the Better Cotton initiative, and close to 40 000 people have been provided with access to clean water. H&M has also joined the fair wage network “to promote fair wages around the world”, and developed a plan to support social development in Bangladesh.

“We are proud about the achievements we have made during the year. But we are also aware of the challenges ahead. We strive to be transparent about our progress and the report is an important part of that. There are a number of things that really standout such as our plan to further support social development in one of our most important sourcing markets, Bangladesh as well as H&M being the biggest user of organic cotton in the world”, says Helena Helmersson, Head of Sustainability at H&M.

For more details, check out {{LNK|the complete highlights of H&M 2011 Conscious Actions|}}, and find the complete report in attached. You will also find an overview of {{LNK|H&M's CSR achievements from last year here|}}.

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