H&M

H&M

12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

In February 2013, H&M began offering their customers a voucher in exchange for used clothing. After accepting the clothes, H&M then donates used garments to be processed by a retailer that repurposes and recycles the clothing. This is done with the goal of creating a zero waste economy in mind.

Authors

Drake Thibodaux

Drake Thibodaux

Liam McCloy

Liam McCloy

Sierra Colson

Sierra Colson

David Schaubhut

David Schaubhut

School

Nicholls State University

Nicholls State University

Professor

Christopher Castille

Christopher Castille

Innovation

H&M collects and donates used, but still wearable, clothing to a recycling company called I:CO. This company then recycles the old clothes into their base fibers that are used to make new clothing items. By doing this, H&M makes it a point to attempt one of the UN’s main sustainable development goals: climate action. They are pushing us to move toward a greener alternative in our daily lives. By removing the need to buy clothing often, it allows for greater sustainability and longer use of products (What Really Happens to Old Clothes).

In 2016 H&M set a goal to annually collect 25,000 tons of unwanted old clothes and textiles. With this goal in mind H&M was able to collect 20,649 tons of unwanted old clothes and textiles in 2018. Once all the unwanted clothes and textiles are collected they are given to a company called I:CO (short for I:Collect). I:CO then separates the textiles into three categories: 1. Rewear, clothes that are suitable for rewear and are sold as second hand clothes, 2. Reuse, clothes and textiles that are made into other products, and 3. Recycle, remaining textiles that are converted into other material.(Sustainability: H&M US, n.d.) H&M estimates that 50-60% of the clothes/textiles were good enough for rewear and reuse, 35-45% of the clothes/textiles were recycled, and the rest that can’t be reused or recycled were used as combustible waste for energy production (Garment collecting: from throwaway to here to stay, 2019).

Overall H&M is working to create a greener environment from recycling old clothes and turning them into new materials. H&M’s main goal is to manufacture goods made from 100% recycled or other sustainably-sourced materials by 2030 (One the way towards using 100% sustainable materials, 2019). Hopefully other companies will follow in H&M’s footsteps, and go green.


What really happens to old clothes dropped in those in-store recycling bins | CBC News. (2018, January 19). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/clothes-recycling-marketplace-1.4493490

Sustainability: H&M US. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www2.hm.com/en_us/hm-sustainability /lets-change.html/close-the-loop

Garment collecting: from throwaway to here to stay. (2019, April 2). Retrieved from https://hmgroup.com/media/Ourstories/fromthrowawaytoheretostay.html

On the way towards using 100% sustainable materials. (2019, March 18). Retrieved from https://about.hm.com/news/general-news-2019/on-the-way-towards-using-100--sustaina ble-materials.html

H&M

Inspiration

H&M is focusing on recycling because it's both easy and sustainable, a win-win situation. By still focusing on clothing, there is little change for their production and core business. Additionally, H&M has been critical of fast-fashion as of late. Fast-fashion is a term coined for retailers that produce excessive quantities of cheap clothing that is made to be disposable after a short amount of use. H&M is trying to break this trend by giving people the option to rewear clothes indefinitely.

H&M was likely inspired to find a profitable innovation, as well as keeping a clear idea of sustainability. To create something to “close the fashion loop,” as well as be directly beneficial to their customer base, H&M was able to come up with a donation initiative that benefits not only the company, but the customer and the environment, as well (Recycling Revolution, n.d.).

A lot of the inspiration is listed on the H&M Foundation. The foundation states an estimated value of $500 billion that has been lost due to clothing not being worn and recycled (Recycling Revolution, n.d.). H&M seems to be outraged by potential profits being lost due to careless wasting. H&M also shared that every second that goes by, textiles the size of one garbage truck will be burned in landfills. H&M seems to be inspired by correcting the growing environmental issues from clothing waste. So, H&M wants to take advantage of potential profits from recycling, and reusing, and decrease pollution from clothing waste.

Recycling Revolution. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://hmfoundation.com/recycling-revolution/

Overall impact

The overall impact of this innovation is to “close the fashion loop” through the donation of used clothing and textiles (Sustainability: H&M US, n.d.). To do this, H&M set up their very own global garment-collection initiative that urges the customer to be free in their clothing choice, to be able to wear whatever they want whenever they want to without fear of judgement.

Whenever people get tired of wearing clothes or they start to stretch and no longer fit properly, they get thrown away and often end up in landfills. By not recycling, people inadvertently begin to create more greenhouse gases. Instead, recycling clothes helps to diminish this gas and other harmful impacts that can result in climate change. Companies like H&M are becoming more open to taking and reusing fabrics from old clothing. This results in less resources being used to create new products, saving money and time producing new clothing.

H&M’s approach also helps the preservation of raw materials. This is accomplished in several ways. First the reuse of textiles in the production of new clothes reduces the need to use raw materials to produce more textiles. Secondly all recycled materials that can’t be used in the production of clothing are used to produce another good. An example of this is H&M using certain recycled materials in the production of insulation. Another example of this is dust from the shredding of materials being saved and used to produce felt-board. H&M’s efforts to reuse clothing materials definitely has a large scale impact on their industry and the world.

Sustainability: H&M US. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www2.hm.com/en_us/hm-sustainability /lets-change.html/close-the-loop


Business benefit

The main benefit for H&M is that it is encouraging repeat customers. By establishing the initiative, H&M has created an incentive for their current customers to continue shopping with them, as well as a lure for bringing in new customers to their locations. The process is simple; customers have the option to donate clothes and textiles that are in any condition from any brand. By donating the used or unused materials, they will be able to receive a coupon from H&M for 15% off their next purchase (Garment Collecting, n.d.). By doing this, anyone who has clothes they would like to give away or were planning on tossing out can now efficiently donate their unwanted garments to a sustainability project and reap the benefits from this rewards program, thus buying H&M goodwill with customers. This reward is what brings the majority of donors in because they are receiving something in return for their garments, instead of simply throwing them out.

Another benefit to H&M is that they are essentially receiving free materials to use and reuse, which directly saves them money in the long-run. Through this initiative, they are encouraging their customers to donate used clothing and textiles to be reworn, reused, and/or recycled. While H&M is giving their customers a coupon in return-- which could decrease profits-- the real profit lies in the amount of clothing that H&M receives and how much they work towards recycling every piece of clothing and textile, saving them money on resources in the process.

Garment Collecting. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www2.hm.com/en_us/women/campaigns/16r-garment-collecting.html


Social and environmental benefit

As stated before, H&M is trying to end a trend of fast-fashion by reusing and repurposing old clothes. This supports the environment because less materials will need to be harvested to produce the one-time-use mindset that people have about modern clothing. By giving customers the option to recycle clothes to receive a voucher, H&M is actively using incentives and rewarding their customers that strive to live a nature friendly lifestyle; this of course is a benefit to society. If everyone steps up to do their part in recycling, be it clothes or plastic, then we will be taking major steps towards creating a healthy planet and a society that supports the idea of living a green lifestyle.

In addition, another reason H&M established this initiative was to promote the reuse, rewear, and recycling of clothing and textiles. H&M estimates that over 50-60% of the garments donated are able to be reworn; therefore, they either resell or reuse these garments to make new products. The rest of these textiles, that are unable to be reworn or sold, are either used to make a new product or are shredded and used as materials for other things so that they aren’t wasted. Finally, any leftover product that cannot be recycled or reused (roughly only 3-7% of textiles donated) is turned into combustible waste used for energy production (Garment collecting: from throwaway to here to stay, 2019). Even as H&M is continuing their efforts towards their sustainability project, they are continuously striving toward improvement through innovation and new recycling technologies.

Garment collecting: from throwaway to here to stay. (2019, April 2). Retrieved from https://hmgroup.com/media/Ourstories/fromthrowawaytoheretostay.html


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H&M

H&M

Stockholm, SE

Business Website: https://www2.hm.com/en_us/index.html

Year Founded: 1947

Number of Employees: 10000+

H&M is a multinational clothing company based out of Sweden. It is known for its fashionable clothing designed for both men and women. It expanded its market to include apparel made for teenagers and children of all ages in 1968. Throughout the 2000s until today, the company has done collaborations with several fashion designers, celebrities, and musicians.