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H&M Beats Organic Cotton Goal by Wide Margin

Last year Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) used 15,000 tons of organic cotton, over three times its targeted amount, according to the company’s Conscious Actions Sustainability Report for 2010.

In 2010 H&M used more organic cotton than ever before, far exceeding its goal of 4,500 tons. This is an increase of 77 percent compared to 2009, beating a goal of a 50 percent increase, and it makes H&M one of the largest users of organic cotton in the world, the company said.

H&M said that 68,000 cotton farmers were educated on more sustainable farming practices through its engagement in the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) last year. 2010 also saw the company’s first cotton harvest from the BCI.

The retailer says it is progressing well against a target for all cotton to come from sustainable sources (either organic, recycled or Better Cotton certified) by 2020.

Also in 2010, H&M turned 1,600 tons of recycled materials into new clothes. In January of this year the company unveiled Waste, a new line made completely of left-over pieces from its Lanvin collection.

H&M has sought to repair its environmental credentials after being caught destroying new, unsold garments. After that news broke in January 2010, the retailer pledged to donate all unsold clothing to charity.

The company is also among the founding members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, launched this year.

Other 2010 achievements included saving 50 million liters of water in denim production, relative to previous production methods. H&M plan to introduce this technique for all denim suppliers in Bangladesh.

H&M reduced the energy use per square meter in its stores by 8 percent from 2007 to 2010. This shows good progress against the target to achieve 20 percent reductions by 2020, the company said.

It achieved a target of reducing group carbon dioxide emissions relative to sales by at least five percent year-on-year, through the use of offsets. H&M says it is progressing towards its goal of sourcing at least 20 percent of in-store energy use from renewables by 2020.

A new distribution center in Belgium, due to start operations this spring, will be equipped with photovoltaics and is expected to be LEED-certified.

The retailer had a goal of initiating supply chain carbon footprint monitoring in 2010, which it did not complete. Last year it collected baseline data for important suppliers on major markets, and says further steps will follow.

Goals for 2011 include:

  • Introduce first Better Cotton products
  • Develop strategy for garment recycling
  • Complement garments’ care/washing instructions with a “climate smarter” alternative
  • Further develop traceability methods for raw materials
  • Investigate possibilities to shift mode of goods transport from road to rail, and also evaluate possibility of shipping goods by rail from Shanghai to Hamburg
  • Use LED light for all new store signs
  • Map waste flows at first tier suppliers
  • Expand supplier energy efficiency programme to include 100-120 factories.
  • Develop best practice guidelines for handling of construction waste.
  • Conduct water scarcity studies in different sourcing markets
  • Develop and implement environmental guidelines for sourcing of non-commercial goods
  • Develop and implement chemical restrictions for suppliers of non-commercial goods
  • Increase the traceability of pulp when purchasing paper/paper products

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