Designing for circularity

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 

Our ambition

At H&M Group we want to become a fully circular business and by 2025 we aim to design all our products for circularity using the Circulator.

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. 

What is the Circulator?

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.

Our process

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.

Case Studies

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.

Get the guide

Download the guide here. Read it, try it out and tell us what you think. What works, what doesn’t, what’s missing, what you would do differently? Email your feedback to circulator@hm.com

Discover our digital tool

We’re developing a digital tool to accompany this guide. It will take you through the process and help you develop more circular products. Find out more and register for updates here.

Circularity x tech

At H&M Group, we want to lead the change and accelerate progress toward a sustainable fashion future. We know that if we want to become a circular business, we need to innovate. Technology, new materials and alternative business models will all have a crucial role to play.

Together we can disrupt the linear fashion industry.

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