Next month, H&M will introduce 16 new denim styles made using recycled cotton from textiles collected in the Garment Collecting initiative in H&M stores. The pieces for men, women and kids are the latest steps toward H&M’s goal of creating a closed loop for fashion, and will be available in all stores worldwide, as well as online.
“Creating a closed loop for textiles, in which unwanted clothes can be recycled into new ones, will not only minimize textile waste, but also significantly reduce the need for virgin resources as well as other impacts fashion has on our planet,“ says CEO Karl-Johan Persson.
By creating a closed loop for its textiles, H&M aims to limit the amount of waste that goes to landfill while saving on the natural resources used in the production of fabric. The Swedish retailer is part of a growing movement among apparel brands — including The North Face, American Eagle Outfitters, Levi-Strauss and, most recently, Speedo USA — working to reduce the environmental impact of the textile industry by collecting and recycling fabrics into new garments.
Since 2013, H&M customers worldwide have been able to bring unwanted clothes from any brand into its stores as part of its Garment Collecting Initiative. So far, the company says over 14,000 tons have been collected globally.
Right now, H&M is able to use 20 percent recycled cotton from collected clothes, and is investing in new technology to increase this share without losing quality. H&M has a target to increase the number of garments made with at least 20 percent recycled fabric by 300 percent compared to 2014.
H&M’s efforts to minimize textile waste don’t end with recycling collected garments: In April, the retailer announced a new partnership with Kering and pioneering textile upcycler Worn Again to market a revolutionary innovation in clothing production and recycling. Worn Again has developed a first-of-its-kind textile-to-textile chemical recycling technology that is able to separate and extract polyester and cotton from old or end-of-use clothing and textiles. Once separated, the aim is for this unique process to enable the ‘recaptured’ polyester and cellulose from cotton to be spun into new fabric, creating a circular resource model for textiles.