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H&M Group’s Packaging Ditches Plastic for Paper

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H&M Group is taking steps to reduce its environmental footprint, one online order at a time.

The European fast-fashion giant, which owns brands H&M, Cos, Weekday, And Other Stories and more, announced Monday that it is replacing the plastic packaging it ships online orders in with a certified paper alternative that’s both reusable and recyclable.

Plastic bags are one of fashion’s dirty little secrets. With online shopping the popular method of choice as a result of the pandemic, the damaging effects of this seemingly trivial item are increasingly under the microscope.

“We are introducing a type of packaging that is better for both the customer and the environment,” said Hanna Lumikero, who’s responsible for the new packaging system at H&M Group. “We are making a huge impact by replacing the outer plastic with a paper solution. This is a small step on a long journey.”

The “long journey” includes joining the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which aims to eliminate “unnecessary and problematic” plastic packaging, ensure that remaining plastics are reusable, recyclable or compostable, and circulate all plastic items “in the economy and out of the environment” by 2025. The initiative has garnered the support of more than 450 brands, retailers and organizations such as Asos, Burberry, Stella McCartney and Zara, along with H&M Group.

The company has also committed to swapping out the majority of its shopping bags with a certified paper option in stores. These efforts, combined with other plastic-reducing initiatives, have already omitted 1,000 tons of plastic from the company’s supply chain in 2019 alone.

Environmental benefits aside, the paper solution also has promotional value. The company noted that the branding labels on the new packaging give each brand a better marketing platform, as they now have a chance to be “more relevant with messaging.”

But the update won’t happen overnight. Already, millions of packages containing the updated material have been shipped to customers as part of the initial rollout, which kicked off with the Cos, ARKET, Monki and Weekday brands from distribution centers in the Netherlands, U.K., Sweden, China, Russia and Australia.

And Other Stories is slated to join the initiative early next year.