In 2013, H&M introduced garment collecting systems across H&M stores around the world. This way, the company has collected well over 28,000 tonnes of clothes and textiles (status as of spring 2016). This is as much fabric as is in more than 120 million t-shirts. This helps prevent textiles from ending up in landfill.
In the first instance, collected garments are being re-used, for example as second-hand clothing. A large part of the clothes are then recycled into, for example, cleaning cloth or insulation material, and fabric for new clothes is produced from some of the clothes collected.
Such technology is just at its beginning. In 2014, H&M managed to create the first garments made with 20% recycled cotton. During 2015, H&M increased the number of such products by 300% to over 1.3 million pieces. However, it is not currently possible to use more than 20% recycled cotton like this in one garment without losing quality and durability.
H&M is optimistic that it will overcome these challenges and this is why H&M actively promotes recycling innovation and invests directly in new circular solutions. The company is involved in a number of different promising initiatives and projects.
Together with Kering, H&M has entered a partnership with UK-based innovation company Worn Again, which is developing promising technologies for textile-to-textile recycling.
In addition, the H&M Foundation established the Global Change Award which rewards early stage ideas for closed loop textiles with an annual grant of €1million plus coaching and support to help take these ideas to scale – and make them available to the entire fashion industry.
Building on this, in spring 2016, H&M announced the vision to become a 100% circular company. For H&M this includes a circular approach to how fashion is made and used. As part of this, H&M also set itself the goal of using 100% recycled or other sustainably sourced materials and committed to releasing further time-bound milestones and activities towards this vision during the next 1-2 years. H&M works with various stakeholders to develop these activities.