H&M is to become the first fashion retailer to launch a global garment recycling initiative next spring in an attempt to create a closed loop cycle for clothing and materials. H&M is a brand that is already well known for its environmental credentials, they aim to make sustainability a conscious part of every stage of their operations. Starting next February customers in all 48 countries that H&M operates within will be able to bring unwanted clothes into store and exchange them for a H&M voucher. The company believes that ‘with great size comes great responsibility’ and it’s position as the second biggest fashion retailer in the world is something it takes very seriously.
This operation has already been trialled in the UK in March this year, I was lucky enough to be a part of the experience and see first hand how the process works. The recycling will be run in conjunction with I:Collect, a European company that specialises in the collection and recycling of clothes and shoes. Items that are collected will be sorted into categories depending on their condition and material. Garments that can be re-worn will be donated to charities to extend the life of the item, garments that are not fit to be re-worn will be recycled in order to close the loop of material production. If H&M can acquire enough used materials to recycle it will break down its dependence on sourcing new raw materials at the start of the life cycle of each new garment it produces.
After the success of their annual ‘conscious collection’ featuring items made out of recycled post consumer materials this bold new step aims to increase the percentage of recycled materials used throughout the range. 2012 also saw the launch of the couture range that was modelled on the red carpet by the likes of Amanda Seyfried and Michelle Williams. All of the outfits below are made from recycled materials or reprocessed waste such as disused fishing nets, plastic bottles and upholstery fabrics.
Just like all consumer goods the production process involved in the clothing industry has a large carbon footprint, this combined with its association with H&M’s global presence has brought the company a lot of attention from environmental activists. However the company does an incredible amount of work to ensure that it’s production methods are as sustainable as possible, they want to make sure that the fashion industry is here to stay.
H&M’s CEO Karl-Johan Persson said: ‘Our sustainability efforts are rooted in a dedication to social and environmental responsibility. We want to do good for the environment, which is why we are now offering our customers a convenient solution: to be able to leave their worn out or defective garments with H&M.’
Personally I think this is going to be a huge success and will make other leading fashion brands to follow suit and put more effort into their sustainability projects.