H&M has become the latest apparel retailer to suspend the sourcing of leather from Brazil

H&M has become the latest apparel retailer to suspend the sourcing of leather from Brazil

Swedish fashion group Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) has become the latest apparel retailer to suspend the sourcing of leather from Brazil over environmental concerns.

Brazil is currently being scrutinised over the number of fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest, which according to the BBC have reached the highest number since 2010. The increase is directly related to intentional deforestation, according to the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (Ipam), with fires often used as a way of clearing land for cattle ranches. Hides are a by-product of the meat industry.

H&M, the world's second-largest fashion retailer, said it will stop sourcing leather from Brazil "until there are credible assurance systems in place to verify that the leather does not contribute to environmental harm in the Amazon."

"Due to the severe fires in the Brazilian part of the Amazon rainforest, and the connections to cattle production, we have decided to place a temporary ban on leather from Brazil," the company said in a statement.

The retailer said the "vast majority" of its leather originates from Europe and "only a very small part" from Brazil.

It follows in the footsteps of VF Corp, the owner of brands including Timberland and Vans, which last week said it will no longer source leather or hides from Brazil until it can be sure they are produced without environmental harm.

According to ABC News, quoting figures from the Center for the Brazilian Tanning Industry, Brazil exported US$1.4bn in leather products in 2018, with most of it going to the US, China and Italy.

Reports put the number of fires detected in the Amazon region at around 50,000 this year – the highest number in a decade.

Brazil has faced international condemnation over its handling of the fires with President Jair Bolsonaro initially denying the issue before sending in armed forces to tackle the blazes.