Every year, H&M burns up to 12 tons of unsold clothing. The brand says it does this if the pieces involved do not fulfill safety regulations, are mould infested, do not fulfill H&M’s strict chemical requirements or contain harmful levels of chemical products or abnormal rates of humidity.
The Swedish brand is determined that such products should not under any circumstances be either sold to customers or recycled. It says its chemical regulations go further than the law demands as it wants customers to feel totally safe while using its products. The brand also outlines what happens to its unsold merchandise: Products stopped for other reasons than health and safety are either donated to charity organisations or re-used through re-use/recycling companies.
Those products in stores that are not sold at full price are sold at a reduced price through sales. H&M also actively moves garments to stores or markets where it sees a greater demand or stores them for the next season. At a last resort, it considers external buyers of its overstock. H&M is investing significantly in the supply chain, such as in new logistics solutions with greater levels of automation, but also in optimising its lead times.