The fashion industry depends heavily on natural resources. While raw material production can be harmful to people and planet, there are materials that leave a lighter footprint. We make every effort to source more responsibly, guided by our policies, ambitions and goals.
How we work with materials
All materials have an impact on climate, nature and people - from production, through the use stage and to the end of life. To reduce this impact, we aim for 100% of our materials to be either recycled or sustainably sourced by 2030, and 30% recycled materials by 2025.
In 2022, we increased the amount of recycled materials in our products to 24% and the share of sustainably sourced materials to 84%, making good progress towards our goals.1
Our material vision
We take a progressive approach to our material work, continually evaluate the materials we source to reflect the latest science, best practices, and knowledge. This ensures we can respond to changes caused by global events, societal and environmental change.
Our vision is to move towards more resilient and circular raw materials that stay within planetary boundaries, enhances livelihoods, and thrives on innovation. It is built around three pillars:2
To become a circular business, we need to reduce our dependency on virgin fibres. By doing this, we will reduce our negative impact on climate, nature and communities, and help to meet our environmental goals and ambitions. In an ideal world, these recycled fibres would come from used textiles to create a closed loop. However, we need to build global infrastructure for collecting and sorting used garments, as well as scale up recycling technology to guarantee an adequate supply of recycled fibres. In the meantime, pre-consumer feedstock, for example from offcuts and scraps generated during production, can make up the shortfall.
As part of our materials vision, key virgin raw materials should be produced using regenerative agricultural practices. Crop rotation, cover cropping, minimal or no-tilling, as well as the use of natural fertilisers all help improve soil health. And healthier soils store more carbon, retain water more efficiently, and positively impact biodiversity and farmer livelihood. Over time, healthier soils will create healthier crops, cutting the need for inputs like pesticides or synthetic fertilisers. Find out more about the regenerative agriculture projects we are investing in.
Securing our supply of raw materials in a responsible way is the foundation of our materials vision. It is based on OECD guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct and the UN Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights. The materials we source for our products should be produced in a way that contributes to sustainable development, respects human rights, preserves natural resources, and helps maintain biodiversity.
Our Responsible Raw Material Sourcing Requirements and Animal Welfare policies state:
- Suppliers of raw material must comply with all applicable environmental, health & safety, labour and social laws and regulations (including land tenure and use rights).
- We do not allow any wood or other forest-derived materials, including man-made cellulosic fibres, to originate from ancient and endangered forests, or to contribute to deforestation.
- No endangered and/or vulnerable species may be used in the production of our products.3
- Since 2020, all cotton sourced for H&M Group comes from more sustainable sources.1,4
- By the end of 2025, all virgin wood used in our products, including packaging, will come from FSC™ certified sources.1,5
- By the end of 2025, all virgin wood used in our man-made cellulosic fibres will come from certified responsible sources.1,5
- By the end of 2025, all virgin wool and animal hair must come from farms certified to animal welfare standards.1,6
The materials we source
Our materials basket shows the share of materials we source for our products. We prioritise work on the materials we source the most or that have the biggest environmental or social impact.
How we evaluate and categorise materials
Our material categorisation framework supports our product teams to take better sourcing decisions. It’s a key tool that will help us reach our material goals.
The framework is guided by our Responsible Raw Material Sourcing Requirements and Animal Welfare policies, as well as Textile Exchange’s Preferred Fiber & Materials Matrix methodology. We evaluate the environmental impact of each material using third-party lifecycle assessment (LCA) data. This includes LCAs for individual materials as well as external material benchmarks based on LCA data, such as the Material Sustainability Index (MSI) by Sustainable Apparel Coalition. Using these third-party assessments helps to create industry alignment and makes it easier for customers and stakeholders to understand the impact of our products.
Materials that fall into the higher categories need to be certified by third parties. For those where no third-party certifications exist, we support the development of new standards to ensure responsible sourcing.
For recycled materials, we have two different approaches – the fully certified supply chain and GRS certified manufacturers using chemical tracers to verify the recycled content.
Some of the standards we use to certify our materials include – Organic Content Standard (OCS), Global Recycled Standard (GRS), Recycled Claim Standard (RCS), Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), Responsible Down Standard (RDS) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
All our cotton is either recycled, organic, in-conversion or sourced through Better Cotton. We are committed to keep exploring different cotton types and innovations to make sure we source the best possible alternatives.
Synthetics add functionality, comfort and durability to our clothes. Read more about the different types we use in our products and how we are moving towards recycled alternatives.
Man-made cellulosic fibres
We use several different man-made cellulosic fibres in our products, such as viscose or Tencel. Traditionally derived from wood pulp, these materials are increasingly being made from waste or by-products of other industries.
All fabrics shed microfibres. We are working with industry partners and other organisations to better understand the problem and research potential solutions.
1 For more information about our goals and the progress we’ve made, see our Sustainability Disclosure, pages 20-21.
2 For our full material vision see our Sustainability Disclosure, page 43.
3 As defined by CITES – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – and the IUCN red list of Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable listed species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.
4 Currently, this means certified organic cotton, recycled cotton, or from Better Cotton sources.
5 Certified sources are FSC or PEFC.
6 For a full list of the standards we use in our material sourcing, see our H&M Group Material Categorisation 2022.
We publish our Sustainability Disclosure annually. In this document, we set out our goals and our progress in the previous year. Find the latest version here. More up-to-date information can be included on this page.