One Year On: H&M & Water Stewardship
By Julia Bakutis 13 May, 2014
H&M's Julia Bakutis updates us on what they have done & what challenges lie ahead for H&M as a water steward
About a year ago, H&M introduced to China Water Risk readers why water is so important to its value chain and what H&M planned to do in China to mitigate and minimize this risk. If you haven’t read it, check out the article here.
One year into H&M’s partnership with WWF for water stewardship, where are we?
Water awareness training
“Basic water awareness training has been rolled out for all 116,000 H&M employees worldwide”
H&M benefits from committed leadership on sustainability and on water in particular. Basic water awareness training has been rolled out for all 116,000 H&M employees worldwide, and all 800 staff in the buying and design departments have received training on sustainable raw material choices.
H&M and WWF have dedicated resources to work together to implement a strong international partnership between the two organizations with clear goals on water stewardship and leadership.
Both organisations have strong local teams in China working to implement a Yangtze Basin engagement plan to improve water quality and allocation of water resources.
“By 2015, all 500 supplier factories with wet processes will have annual water targets…”
In addition, H&M has many strong and long-term relationships with suppliers in China. We will benefit from this strength when implementing improved water management processes in H&M suppliers with wet processes. By 2015, all 500 supplier factories with wet processes will have annual water targets, improved water use measurements, improved chemical management, reduced water use and an increased water recycling rate.
A shared responsibility
“As H&M doesn’t own any factories …means that we must build trust and a shared vision with our partners”
Water as a shared resource is also a shared responsibility. As H&M doesn’t own any factories the company therefore supports its supply chain partners to take ownership and improve the use of water in their operations. We provide training and capacity building to support our partners in this work, but ultimately the responsibility for better water stewardship rests in the hands of H&M suppliers.
We strongly believe that this is the most sustainable approach to water management, but it means that we first must build trust and a shared vision with our partners.
“In China there is a strong government incentive to act on environmental issues.”
In China there is a strong government incentive to act on environmental issues. H&M and WWF have a great opportunity to capitalize on this moment and work with the government to encourage better policies and industry practices.
Fabric mills have big impacts on water because their processes are traditionally water and chemical intense. H&M does not have a direct business relationship with the fabric mills that our suppliers source from, but the. We have now started to audit selected mills, allowing H&M to have a better understanding of our water risk in China. With this knowledge, we are better able to support improvements in cleaner production.
A collective approach
H&M has set its sight on becoming the fashion industry’s leading water steward. But reducing negative water impacts is not something a single company or organisation can solve, but with a collective approach we can achieve a lot. It can promote better practices not just in our own supply chain, but also throughout the whole industry. With our new water strategy, we hope to inspire others to take the same approach and be part of the solution.
More about H&M’s water strategy here.
To learn more, visit: hm.com/water
This article has been updated since it was published.
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