At H&M Group, we are committed to becoming a circular business. To make this transition we need to design products that last longer, are easier to recycle and made from safe, sustainably sourced or recycled materials.
Designing for circularity
It’s time for a sense check. For years we’ve treated our clothes like disposable items – throwing them away when we no longer use them. Out of sight. Out of mind. But these garments are made from precious resources that we can’t afford to let go to waste.
We need to start making full use of all the energy and materials that are embedded in our clothes. The best way to do this is to use them for as long as possible then repair, resell and repurpose before eventually recycling them when they are no longer usable.
However, the way we make products today doesn’t take this into account. In recent years, we’ve aimed to use the most sustainable materials to make the most desirable pieces, but we haven’t focused enough on making them last or making them recyclable.
But we can change. With over 70% of a product’s environmental impact determined at the design stage, it is time for a new approach.
Making more circular products demands more than an extra step in the design process. Over the past few years, a team of internal and external experts have been reshaping our approach to developing products.
The result is the Circulator – a tool that supports designers through a new product development process. First steps involve defining a product’s purpose that will guide decisions on which materials and design strategies to use. The tool balances trade-offs between durability and recyclability, supports more objective decision making and assesses the circular potential of your product.
What’s inside the guide?
The complexity of circular design
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to designing for circularity. At H&M Group we take a more nuanced approach to take account for the trade-offs between making something that is durable and recyclable.
Full visibility of the process we follow at H&M Group, from considering what our customers want, choosing materials and deciding on what design strategies to implement.
Assigning product purpose
To deal with the trade-offs between durability and recyclability, each product is assigned a product purpose category. This helps prioritise which materials and design strategies you use to maximise the circular potential of your product.
A selection of case studies from across the H&M Group brands – ARKET, H&M, Monki, Weekday – that show how we have used the guide in practice to design more circular products.
Collaborate with us
We know that we can’t transition to a circular business model alone. That’s why we’re sharing the Circulator with people who are as passionate about designing for circularity as we are.