H&M: Gaining Influence Over Cotton

H&M Sustainability Report

“To continue our efforts to play as full a role as possible throughout our operations, we have made sustainability the responsibility of all departments in the company. This means that we move further towards integrating social and environmental concern into the daily decision-making for everyone at H&M,” says Karl-Johan Persson, CEO, H&M in the company’s Conscious Actions Sustainability Report 2010. According to Karl-Johan Persson, for H&M, sustainability is a natural part of doing business in a globalised world.

The report makes the point that presence in developing countries is not an option nor is there an automatic co-relation between the price of a product and the quality of working conditions. Says Persson in his foreword to the report, “For H&M, sustainability is a natural part of doing business in a globalised world. Stable purchasing and sales markets, in which people are treated with respect and where resources
are usedresponsibly, are essential to our business model. Naturally, we have to play a role in making
this business context a reality.”

H&M spoke to Make Cotton Sustainable on its commitment to sustainability.

How much sustainable cotton do you use?

H&M:   H&M used more than 15000 tons of certified organic cotton in 2010. Our target is to only use more sustainable cotton by 2020. This includes Better Cotton (BCI), organic cotton and recycled cotton.

Where do you source your cotton from?
H&M:   Organic cotton used for H&M products comes from Turkey, India and China.

How do you track the integrity of your product?
H&M:   All organic cotton used for H&M products is independently certified by accredited certification bodies such as the Control Union and IMO.

How do you see the trend for adopting sustainable and organic cotton clothes?
H&M:   We see a further growing interest of customers in sustainability. But for H&M it is more than a trend, it is part of our long term strategic work to become an overall more sustainable business.

Does sustainable cotton make business sense? What is the kind and size of investment that you have to make in your supply chain?
H&M:   Every company that wants to be sustainable and successful in the long run has to think about minimizing environmental impacts and how to protect valuable resources. Cotton is our most important raw material and that makes it crucial for us to gain influence over cotton becoming a more sustainable crop. Among many other things as part of our sustainability program we invest in more sustainable raw materials of different kinds and in helping our supplier factories to improve their standards.

How does India figure in your supply chain?
H&M:   H&M sources both, organic cotton as well as ready made garments from India.

Photo Courtesy: H&M

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