NRF Member Spotlight: H&M

3 ways H&M is committing to a sustainable future
November 17, 2021

According to a survey conducted by NRF and IBM in 2020, nearly 60 percent of consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to be more sustainable. With sustainability top of mind for shoppers, many retailers have reimagined their products and their business operations to become more environmentally friendly.

Sustainable retail leader H&M’s website makes it clear: The company is committed to “making fashion and design accessible to everyone, in a way that’s good for people, the planet and our industry.” Company initiatives include partnering with Renewcell to increase the use of its Circulose material (made from recycled cotton waste) into H&M’s garments. H&M, an NRF retail member since 2003, also participates in the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in which companies commit to using 100% recycled materials or materials sourced more sustainably by 2030.

Sustainability in retail

Explore the different ways retailers are incorporating more sustainable practices into their businesses.

We connected with Abi Kammerzell, head of sustainability for H&M USA, to learn the top things you need to know about H&M’s sustainability journey and philanthropic impact.

It’s rethinking Black Friday consumption in a sustainable way.

Our company expects to see a lot of consumers get a head start on their holiday shopping this year. We also expect to see more in-store traffic, as pandemic restrictions have eased over the last year.

We aim to be present where and when our customers want to shop with us. In many cases this means being present and having special offers in connection to Black Friday. We’re also aware of the discussions around the concerns of Black Friday and the potential of increased consumption it supports.

Our mission is to offer quality fashion at the best price in a sustainable way. Any special offers during Black Friday or other sales do not in any way change our commitments in sustainability.

The H&M Foundation's Global Change Award is the 'Nobel Prize of Fashion.'

The H&M Foundation originated in 2007, when H&M made a donation into projects that could contribute to positive change.  It was founded to fast-track the realization of the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals, using collaboration and innovation to co-create, fund and share solutions for the world’s most urgent challenges.

The H&M Foundation is a separate legal entity from the H&M Group, with its own board, team and strategy, working outside of the company sphere. However, sprung from H&M’s entrepreneurial heritage, it’s in the Foundation’s core to disrupt traditional systems, be agile and flexible, and never settle.

One of the Foundation’s most exciting endeavors is the Global Change Award, an innovation challenge calling for game-changing ideas that can help reinvent the entire industry. It was launched in 2015 with a vision to accelerate the process of creating a sustainable future for fashion and thereby protect our planet. The GCA has been called the Nobel Prize of fashion and is one of the biggest innovation challenges in the world for early-stage innovation.

H&M's sustainability efforts cover all aspects of the brand.

H&M Group has committed to becoming circular and climate positive throughout its entire value chain by 2040. We have also set the goal to use 100 percent recycled materials or materials sourced in a more sustainable way by 2030. Last year we achieved 64.5 percent of this goal.

We invest in new business models in which fashion never goes to waste, such as rentals, subscriptions and re-commerce as well as new garment-to-garment recycling technologies. We see great breakthroughs in textile recycling technologies that we are testing for our further use of recycled materials and have made a number of investments in recycling of post-consumer fabric. We are now developing and scaling up these investments and this is really what we see as one of the solutions going forward. It is going to be a big tipping point for the whole fashion industry.

One example of how we partner up and invest to scale innovations in materials is our work together with Renewcell to increase the use of its Circulose material (made from recycled cotton waste) to accelerate this development. Last year, H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection featured the newly patented material Circulose, marking the first time the material was used in garments sold at scale.

H&M’s garment collecting initiative is another key step we’ve taken to become circular. We were the first global retailer to implement a global garment collecting program in 2013. In 2020 we collected 18,800 metric tonnes of garments alone.

Committees and councils

Learn more about NRF's Sustainability Council and how you can join.

Additionally, in 2020, we launched the LOOOP machine, which uses a technique that dissembles and assembles old garments into new ones. This is the first time this garment-to-garment recycling system was shown in store by a fashion retailer. We are committed to closing the loop on fashion and this machine visualizes to customers that old textiles hold a value and should never go to waste.

We also believe in sustainability as doing good for the planet as well as people. In the United States, we launched a partnership in March 2021 with Buy From a Black Woman, a nonprofit organization founded in 2016 by Nikki Porcher that connects nearly 600 Black women-owned businesses across the U.S. and provides a community of support with the goal of helping them flourish. Throughout July 2021, H&M sponsored the Buy From a Black Woman Inspire Tour, a series of pop-up shopping events across 15 U.S. cities and hosted in select H&M stores, highlighting local Black women-owned businesses and providing them options in a world that limits their voices.

NRF and H&M

Our favorite NRF resource is all its working groups and councils that connect us with experts in our industry, across other retailers, strategists and policy experts.

We love attending the NRF Big Show. We appreciate the wide range of programming and opportunity in years past to take part in panels and presentations. Being inspired by what other retailers are doing makes the work that we’re doing that much more exciting.

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