Daily Insights

H&M’s Paper Plans

By: Mackenzie Baker | Dec 23, 2020

H&M’s takes a step forward in its sustainability commitments by replacing plastic packaging with a paper alternative. The move could lower the retailer’s dependency on plastic and help it go head-to-head against one of the most pressing causes for today’s consumers.  

Waste in the fashion and retail industry has been a hot topic this year as everyone from Gucci to Walmart launches eco-friendly efforts. H&M is the latest retailer to tap into the trend with its new, sustainable packaging that will eventually be rolled out to markets around the world. For the initial launch, H&M introduces the packaging across Europe and Australia, with extended use to begin in 2021. While the paper packaging will be featured primarily in H&M stores, parent company H&M Group will also test it at sister brands like & Other Stories beginning early next year. If the test runs prove successful, H&M could rapidly move along its sustainability schedule, which is currently laid out for a ten-year track. In addition to the plastic-free packaging, H&M plans to begin using only recycled or sustainably sourced raw materials for all products by 2030. The retailer also hopes to replace plastic throughout its logistics supply chain. 

The rise in environmentally-friendly initiatives could be attributed to public pressure as consumers prioritize sustainability while shopping, particularly during the Coronavirus pandemic, which heightened consumer demand for brand tractability. To appeal to eco-minded consumers, brands may have to adapt their production and in-store strategies in a way that allows them to sustain sales while making progress towards sustainability, according to a Gartner report. To help on its own eco-friendly path, H&M joined The Fashion Pact, a sustainable fashion initiative whose members include luxury label Prada. Additionally, the retailer signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and the Pack4Good initiative, showing its dedication to eliminating waste and plastic from its business. Doubling down on its commitments via brand pledges and the more tangible packaging plan could help H&M resonate with a larger audience, which may be more inclined to shop at its stores knowing they are not contributing to the retail waste epidemic. 

With its new packaging, H&M can assure consumers that beneficial changes are coming to the retail industry, even if it starts with something as simple as packaging. By taking a large step forward in its sustainability commitment during the pandemic, the retailer could also inspire fellow fast fashion labels to do their own part in eliminating waste, particularly as consumer demand shifts towards an eco-conscious future.