H&M Group is highly concerned about the environmental impact of microfibres and is driving research to find industry-wide solutions.

When fabrics are washed during production or by customers, natural and synthetic microfibres are released into the water system. These fibres end up in waterways and pollute ecosystems. Each year, approximately 500,000 tonnes of microfibres — the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles — enter the ocean from washing clothes.*

This needs to be addressed at several stages throughout the value chain, including design, production, use and end-of-life, which is why we cooperate with other stakeholders to find effective solutions.

We’re developing a microfibres roadmap to formalise our current approach, which includes:

  • Choosing and designing yarns and fabrics that minimise microfibre shedding.
  • Researching new production processes and requirements to minimise shedding.
  • Offering microplastic-reducing laundry bags to customers and support the development of laundry machine filter systems.
  • Improving technologies that enable reuse and recycling.

These are five of the most urgent needs of the industry: 

  • A standardised test method to enable credible, comparable and transparent product testing.
  • A full understanding of how production processes contribute to the problem, and what can be done to avoid it (e.g. installing filters, changing processes).
  • Greater knowledge of how yarn and fabric constructions and compositions contribute to the problem so that effective solutions can be found.
  • Better filters for washing machines, including retrofitting existing washers, to capture microfibres before they enter the water system.
  • More research and better understanding of the adverse effects of microfibres on humans and the environment are urgently needed to have a better perspective on the relevant issues and how they correlate to, for example, fibre content or type of finish.

We are working with others to meet these industry needs. Here are our main actions:  

  • We signed up to The Microfibre 2030 Commitment – a global commitment to work towards zero impact on nature from textile fibre fragmentation by 2030, Our roadmap is in line with this commitment.
  • We initiated a 24-month research project called ‘A Management Tool for Microplastics from Textile Production Process’, together with the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA). The project closely studied the release of microplastics and their management in textile manufacturing processes.
  • To understand how different fabric compositions shed microfibres during different production process, we co-sponsored research by Forum for Future. This has helped us to understand which products are more likely to shed microfibers.
  • We share knowledge and information about microfibres across our supply chain to raise awareness and identify potential solutions
  • We offer laundry bags that prevent microfibre shedding during washing as part of our assortment in selected stores and online. We are currently rolling this out to more markets.

* Source: A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future by Ellen MacArthur Foundation & CFI pg 39.