Swedish fashion retailer H&M Group has said the Covid-19 pandemic did impact its sustainability targets for the year with factory closures and a delay or suspension of several planned sustainability-related activities.
In its 2020 sustainability report, the retailer said sustainability-related activities including garment collection programmes, some projects to scale innovative business models, finalising its Circular Product Development Guideline and microfibre strategy, and carrying out in-person supplier factory assessments were delayed or put on hold.
The development of global science-based guidelines on biodiversity through a broad partnership between various global organisations and corporations has also been delayed and is expected to resume in 2021.
Supply chain impacts included factory closures and reductions in future orders, with H&M noting it is in close dialogue with several partners to support suppliers, with the aim of finding a sustainable, whole sector solution.
It also noted the need for better social security for garment industry workers, something highlighted by the pandemic, and said it has been commissioning external research and meeting with stakeholders such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and other brands to explore further options to strengthen national social security for garment workers in the short and long term.
“The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need to secure our supply chain against sudden global events beyond our control. We’ll continue exploring ways to increase supply chain resilience, including systems to protect the most vulnerable people in our value chain.”
The retailer also updated on its material choice goals.
- As of 2020 it only sources recycled cotton, organic cotton, or cotton sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). It now plans to continue to strengthen its cotton strategy and expand its criteria for cotton sourced in a more sustainable way.
- By 2025 it aims for all wood in its product and packaging to be made of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified materials, or fibres from alternative sources such as agricultural residues and post-consumer textiles.
- By 2025 it plans to only source man-made cellulosics that are made from recycled or FSC certified sources or from agricultural residues and it will only use producers with good environmental practices.
- By 2025 it aims to only use wool from farms certified by the Responsible Wool Standard, recycled or regenerated sources or it will replace it with other sustainable non-animal fibres.
- By 2025 all cashmere will come from farms certified by the Good Cashmere Standard, recycled or regenerated sources or it will replace cashmere with other sustainable non-animal sources.
- Since 2020 all mohair has come from farms certified by the Responsible Mohair Standard.
- By 2025 it plans for all its animal-based leather to be chrome-free and that it will originate from more responsible sources.
- By 2025, 30% of its total materials will be from recycled sources. It achieved 64.5% recycled or other more sustainably sourced materials in 2020.
The retailer has also committed to finding ways to prevent microfibre shedding in future, continuing to strengthen its research on microfibre-free alternatives to current synthetic fibres and production techniques, and start developing a group-wide Microfibres Roadmap.
On environmental goals, H&M says:
- It plans to reduce CO2 equivalent emissions across its value chain by half by 2030
- All its products will be designed to be reusable, repairable or recyclable from 2021
- Reuse, repair or recycle all products and materials by 2030, with a preference for reuse
“Although we have made good progress advancing our sustainability agenda, the last twelve months have served to further reinforce the importance of sustainability and the need to accelerate this work. We all need to play our part in transforming our industry into one that is genuinely built around circularity,” says H&M Group CEO, Helena Helmersson.
Click here to access the full report.