H&Ms new water strategy has been developed in line with WWFs Water Stewardship steps

H&M's new water strategy has been developed in line with WWF's Water Stewardship steps

Fashion retail giant H&M has signed up with conservation organisation WWF to execute a new global water strategy over the next three years aimed at ensuring water is used responsibly throughout its entire supply chain.

The new plan, the company said, was drawn up following an evaluation last year of H&M's efforts and challenges on the issue.

Under the partnership, the company's designers and buyers will undergo extra training on the water impact of raw material production and wet processes for various styles, in order to help them make more sustainable choices.

The programme will also work with public policy makers, NGOs, water institutions and other companies to support better management of river basins in China and Bangladesh.

“H&M understands that its long-term success depends on access to adequate water supplies,” said Jim Leape, director general of WWF International.

“It also understands that its social licence to operate depends on being a good neighbour and good steward of shared resources…We hope other companies will be inspired to take the same approach.”

“Water is a key resource for H&M and we are committed to ensure that water is used responsibly throughout our value chain,” added Karl-Johan Persson, H&M CEO.

“We do this to minimise risks in our operations, to protect the environment and to secure the availability of water.”

H&M describes the initiative as "a game changer" in the fashion industry, since it takes the whole supply chain into account and goes far beyond the factory lines.

The retailer will initially work on water management with 190 suppliers manufacturing the majority of its products. 

It also aims to reach all 750 direct suppliers and many fabric manufacturers with information about the new water strategy. 

About a third of the units which perform wet processes for H&M are located in areas which are now, or will be by 2025, considered extreme water scarce, the company said.