Sustainable Material Evaluation
At H&M Group we use third party lifecycle assessment data to evaluation the sustainability credentials of recycled and other sustainably sourced materials. This includes individual LCA’s as well as external material benchmarks based on LCA data, such as the Material Sustainability Index (MSI) by Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC). We encourage material manufacturers to contribute to the MSI by submitting their data and have their material transparently benchmarked, so that we, and others, can make better informed decisions.
In addition to LCA, topics like animal welfare and material ethics are evaluated. For more information, see our animal welfare and material ethics policy in the related media section further down of this page.
Sustainable Material Integrity
For our more sustainable materials we typically require the use of credible third-party certification schemes where applicable or set up other robust schemes to ensure sustainable sourcing and integrity. Standards we use to certify our materials against include; Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Organic Content Standard (OCS), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Global Recycled Standard (GRS), Recycled Claim Standard (RCS), Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), Responsible Down Standard (RDS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). For more information on the standards, please see the respective website.
On-Product Sustainable Material Claims
Brands within H&M Group can claim, on a product level, the usage of more sustainable materials. To make such claim credible and transparent, the general rule is that at least 50 %* of a product must consist of more sustainable materials, but brands within H&M Group can set that bar higher, but not lower. Any such claim must also be accompanied by a description of the more sustainable material and in what part of the product it appears. Given a product fulfils the requirements, it is up to each brand within H&M Group to decide on the details and if they want to make such claim, and whether or not to use the logo (e.g. GOTS, OCS, GRS, RWS) of the standard to which the material is certified.
Cotton is the raw material we use the most. However, cotton is also a challenging commodity throughout the fashion value chain. It requires a lot of water to grow, and ensuring a fair income for cotton farmers is not always easy. Our aim is for all cotton in our range to be sustainably sourced by 2020.
Polyester is an artificial fibre made from oil, which is used widely around the world, especially common in sportswear. Recycled polyester is a more sustainable option than conventional polyester, and is made from oil-based waste, such as PET bottles — a way of preventing plastic waste from ending up in landfills.
Polyamide is another popular oil-based fibre, often used to make underwear and tights, but also outerwear. We get our recycled polyamide from materials like old fishing nets and carpets. We also utilise leftover waste from production, a way of saving natural resources and reduce what ends up in landfills.
Lyocell is a fiber made from the cellulose coming from for example trees. This is a renewable material coming from sources requiring little or no irrigation or pesticides, making it a more sustainable option than cotton. We mainly use TENCELTM branded lyocell fibers which are derived from sustainable wood sources, it is produced in an environmental responsible closed loop production process, which transforms wood pulp into cellulosic fibers.
Recycled wool is ideal for heavier, outdoor garments. It comes from the waste or cut-offs created during production, or from clothes gathered via our Garment Collecting initiative. By recycling wool, we save raw materials and reduce what ends up in landfills. We also use recycled wool in knitted sweaters, hats, gloves and scarves.
Linen is a beautiful and durable material made from flax plants, and our organic linen derives from plants grown without chemical pesticides or fertilisers, favourably on both the farmers’ health and the environment. The fabric is of the same high quality as conventional linen but without any genetically modified fibres.
Conventional silk comes from silkworms living in mulberry trees. Organic silk guarantees that the mulberry trees the silkworms live in are grown in an environmentally friendly way, using natural and sustainable farming techniques. Organic silk has the same high quality as conventional silk.
FSC™ Natural Rubber
The Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC) is a global, independent, non-profit organisation, which protects and supports millions of acres of forest around the world. Our FSC™ natural rubber comes from well-managed rubber tree forests. It is also a renewable and recyclable material that requires little energy or chemicals to produce.
Glass is easy to recycle without any loss in quality, and beads made of recycled glass can be used for embellishments for clothes, accessories and home decor. For the 2016 Conscious Exclusive Collection, recycled glass beads were used in Art Deco-inspired embroidery. Recycling glass means we save natural resources such as sand or limestone.
We get our recycled plastic from PET plastic bottles, plastic bags, shampoo bottles and other plastic containers. We then use this plastic to make everything from our shopping bags to some of our popular accessories. Being able to repurpose plastic waste and incorporate it into new fashion pieces is a great way of avoiding harm to our planet.
FSC™ Certified Wood
FSC™ certified wood comes from FSC™ certified forests that have been audited by a third party accredited certification body for conformity with FSC™ standards from sourcing to store.
FSC™ Recycled Wood
Wood products carrying the FSC™ Recycled label have been verified by a third-party certification body as being made from at least 70% post-consumer reclaimed materials, i.e. wood and or wood fibres that have been reclaimed from a product after that product has been used for its intended purpose by individuals or businesses.
FSC™ Recycled Paper
Paper products can contain any balance of pre-consumer and post-consumer reclaimed material as long as all applicable parts of the product are verified as reclaimed. The FSC™ Recycled label is not, however, a guarantee that the wood originally comes from an FSC™ certified forest.
Recycled cashmere comes from post-consumer waste or cut-offs created during production. By recycling cashmere, we save raw materials, use fewer chemicals, water and land but also reduce what ends up in landfills.
Recycled Down and Feather
Recycled down comes from feathers recovered from for example old blankets, pillows, or cushions. By recycling down, we save raw materials, use fewer chemicals, water and land but also reduce what ends up in landfills. Recycled down could be used in the same applications as virgin down.
Jute is a fibre extracted from the bark of the white jute plant. It requires only low amounts of water, no chemical pesticides or fertilizers and contains no GMO’s.
Recycled and refined silver is obtained from all above-ground sources which could be both industrial scrap and old silver products such as candle holders, flatware, coins and scrap jewellry. By recycling metals, all the negative impacts of mining are avoided and a lot of energy is saved.
*Unless higher criteria apply based on the standard used to certify the material. An exception from the 50 % general rule is also made for mechanically recycled cotton due to quality challenges with higher recycled content caused by the shortening of fibers in the recycling process. For mechanically recycled cotton, the minimum content is instead 20 %, but due to the remarkably better sustainability performance of recycled cotton compared to virgin cotton, it is still be big improvement sustainability wise. H&M Group is working to develop recycling technologies to overcome these challenges.