Materials

The fashion industry depends heavily on natural resources. While the environmental impacts associated with fabric and textile processing can be harmful to nature, there are fabrics that leave a lighter footprint. We make every effort to source sustainably, guided by our Material Ethics.

Our material ethics

H&M Group is committed to sourcing raw materials in a sustainable way, taking into account both social and environmental impacts.

Raw material production and sourcing must be in line with both local laws, as well as international standards and must not lead to degradation or destruction of ecosystems and biodiversity. Securing our supply of raw materials from an ethical perspective is an extremely important part of H&M Group’s business model. We are committed to ensuring that the natural raw materials used in our products are produced in a way that contributes to sustainable development, respects human rights, preserves natural resources, and helps maintain biodiversity. No vulnerable or endangered species must be used.

Some highlights from our Responsible Raw Material Sourcing and Animal Welfare policies:

  • Suppliers of natural raw material must comply with all applicable environmental, health & safety, labour and social laws and regulations (including applicable land tenure and use rights).
  • We do not allow any wood or other forest-derived materials, including man-made cellulosic fibre, to originate from ancient and endangered forests, or forests operations damaging high conservation values.
  • No endangered and/or vulnerable species* may be used in the production of our products.
  • As of 2020, all cotton sourced for H&M Group comes from more sustainable sources**.
  • By the end of 2025, 100% of all wood used in our products, including man-made cellulosic materials, will be sourced from well-managed and FSC™ -certified forests.

You can find the full Responsible Raw Material Sourcing Policy  and Animal Welfare Policy here.

How we evaluate and categorise materials

Our material categorisation framework is designed to guide product teams at H&M Group to take better sourcing decisions. It’s a key tool that will help us reach our goals around materials.

The material categorisation is guided by our Animal Welfare and Responsible Raw Material Sourcing 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 (SAC). Using these third-party assessments helps to create industry alignment and makes it easy for customers and stakeholders to compare and understand how we are doing.

Download the H&M Group Material Categorisation 2021 .

Ensuring integrity

Our preferred materials that fall into the higher categories need to be certified by credible third-parties. For materials where no third-party certifications exist, we establish alternative schemes 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.

Standards we use to certify our materials include: Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), 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).

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. 

Our materials goals

All materials have an impact on our planet, from their production, use and, ultimately, end of life and disposal. To reduce our environmental impact, we aim for 100% of our materials to be either recycled or sourced in a more sustainable way by 2030, and 30% recycled materials by 2025. 

Last year we tripled the share of recycled materials to 17.9% and increased the share of more sustainably sourced materials to 62.1%, making good progress towards our goals. 

% of recycled or other more sustainably sourced materials

Graph showing the growth of recycled or other sustainably sourced materials in H&M Group products

Commonly sourced materials

Cotton

Cotton is the raw material we source the most. It has many benefits but it is also a challenging commodity. In 2020, we reached our goal of sourcing all our cotton from more sustainable sources. Despite achieving this milestone, we will keep exploring other cotton types and innovations to bring sustainable change. Read more about cotton.

Lyocell

Lyocell is a fibre made from the cellulose from wood. This is a renewable material made from natural resources requiring little or no irrigation or pesticides, making it a more sustainable option than cotton. We mainly use TENCEL™ branded lyocell fibres which are derived from sustainable wood sources. It is produced in an environmental responsible closed loop production process, which transforms wood pulp into cellulosic fibres.

FSC™ certified wood

FSC™ certified wood comes from FSC™ certified forests that have been audited by a third-party accredited certification body.

FSC™ natural rubber

The Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC) is a global, independent, non-profit organisation that develops sustainable forestry certification standards. Our FSC™ natural rubber comes from well-managed rubber trees. Natural rubber is a renewable and recyclable material that requires little energy and few chemicals to produce.

FSC™ recycled paper

Paper products can contain any balance of pre-consumer and post-consumer reclaimed material if 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.

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.

Leather

We only accept leather originating from cows, buffalo, sheep, goats or pigs that have been bred for meat production. The leather supply chain is currently not very transparent and we are collaborating with other organisations to improve the traceability. Because of the risk of indirectly contributing to the deforestation of the Amazon, we have had a ban on leather from Brazil since 2019.

Organic jute

Jute is a fibre extracted from the bark of the white jute plant. It requires little water, no chemical pesticides or fertilizers and contains no GMOs.

Organic linen

Linen is a beautiful and durable material made from flax plants. Our organic linen derives from plants grown without chemical pesticides or fertilisers — better for farmers’ health and the environment. The fabric is of the same high quality as conventional linen but without any genetically modified fibres.

Organic silk

Conventional silk comes from silkworms living in mulberry trees. Organic silk guarantees that the trees are grown in an environmentally friendly way, using natural and sustainable farming techniques. Organic silk has the same high quality as conventional silk.

Recycled cashmere

Recycled cashmere comes from post-consumer and post-industrial waste or cut-offs from 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 feathers

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 can be used in the same applications as virgin down.

Recycled glass

Glass is easy to recycle without any loss in quality. Beads made of recycled glass can be used for embellishments for clothes, accessories and home decor. Recycling glass means we save natural resources such as sand or limestone.

Recycled plastic

We get our recycled plastic from PET plastic drinks bottles, plastic bags, shampoo bottles and other plastic containers. We then use this plastic to make, for example, 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.

Recycled polyamide

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 reducing what ends up in landfills.

Recycled polyester

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 made from oil-based waste, such as PET drinks bottles — a way of preventing plastic waste from ending up in landfills.

Recycled silver

Recycled and refined silver is obtained from all above-ground sources which could be industrial scrap and old silver products such as candle holders, flatware, coins and scrap jewellery. By recycling metals, all the negative impacts of mining are avoided and a lot of energy is saved.

Recycled wool

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.

* 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.

** Currently, this means certified organic cotton, recycled cotton, or from Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) sources.

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Track our progress across materials, climate and circularity

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