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H&M reducing plastic with smart design packaging concept

Exploring new ways to maximize resources and minimize waste is crucial on the journey to becoming a circular business. In 2020, H&M Group took a big leap, by shifting from plastic to paper with a new multi-brand packaging concept for online orders.

H&M Group-packaging smart design
Figure 1: Towards the end of 2020, H&M Group started to send online orders using a new packaging concept based on a minimalistic design solution made of certified paper. 

Packaging is important to protect products and ensure they arrive in good shape to stores and customers. But packaging also uses valuable resources and creates a lot of waste.

Towards the end of 2020, H&M Group started to send online orders using a new packaging concept based on a minimalistic design solution made of certified paper. The plan is for all brands, in all markets, to use the packaging by 2022.

“The new packaging concept was a milestone during 2020, taking us closer to meeting our packaging goals,” says Ulrika Nordvall Bardh, Strategy Lead Circular Economy at H&M Group.

Going for fewer plastics

As a member and signatory of the initiatives The New Plastics Economy, Global Commitment and The Fashion Pact, H&M Group is determined to address plastic pollution.

Ulrika Nordvall Bardh-H&M
Figure 2: Ulrika Nordvall Bardh, Strategy Lead Circular Economy at H&M Group.

The ambition is to phase out unnecessary, problematic and single-use plastic packaging. H&M Group’s new packaging concept however still contains an inner bag mainly made of post-consumer recycled plastics, in the majority of its shipments. This is due to the fact that inner plastic bags still are commonly used on industry level through the long logistics supply chain, for example, for safety and hygiene reasons. Efforts are ongoing within the group to find an alternative solution as soon as possible.

“It’s no secret that plastics have an extremely negative impact on the environment. That’s why we need to leave behind today’s linear business model and move towards a circular economy for plastics, in which plastic never becomes waste,” says Ulrika Nordvall Bardh.

“Addressing our packaging solutions and phasing out plastic where it’s possible is a very important step in the right direction,” Ulrika Nordvall added.

And the numbers speak for themselves. With the new packaging system in place, 100,278 kg of plastic was eliminated during 2020. During 2021, that number is estimated to skyrocket to 1,529,097 kg. The share of paper bags will then account for 58% of the total bags used.

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