H&M saves 450 million litres of water in 2012

Clothing manufacturer and retailer H&M saved 450 million litres of water by improving its water-intensive production in 2012, according to its annual sustainability report.

In order to address the particularly water-intensive production of denim, the company established water-management improvements it claims can save about 30% of the water used through conventional processes.

As a result, H&M is now saving 400 million more litres of water a year, by using better manufacturing processes, than it did in 2010.

The company is also reducing the amount of water it uses in its stores, offices and distribution centres.

At its centres in Hamburg, Ghlin, Madrid and one store in the UK, rain-water harvesting facilities have collected around 3 million litres of water.

In addition, by investing in more sustainable alternatives to conventional cotton and other natural fibres, in 2012 the company saved the equivalent of 78 million bathtubs of water.

H&M also has plans for the future to further reduce its negative water impact across its whole supply chain.

Embarking on a three-year partnership with WWF, H&M has formed a new water strategy, which includes more than 30 water-connected activities along its entire textile value chain. (link)

Through the strategy, its designers and buyers will receive training on water impact of raw material production, as well as wet processes for different styles, in order to promote more sustainable choices.

WWF and H&M will also work in collaboration with public policy makers, NGOs, water institutions and companies to support the better management of particular river basins in China and Bangladesh.

In addition, H&M aims to improve its internal water efficiency, minimise its suppliers’ impact on water and inspire customers to use water responsibility.

H&M head of environmental sustainability, Henrik Lampa told edie that water could benefit from a higher price as currently a risk to production was often the only the driving factor behind water efficiency.

“The direct costs to get to water in many of the production markets is not very highly priced so it is not really the driver to save money,” he said.

Lampa added: “But if you look at it from a business point of view it has to do with risk, so if you use processes involving less water you might not have to install another well and face the drilling costs that go with it.

Conor McGlone

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