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Clothing retailer H&M launches ‘World Recycle Week’

Clothing retailer H&M has today (18 April) begun its ‘World Recycle Week’ campaign and is aiming to collect 1,000 tonnes of old clothing from customers across its 3,600 stores worldwide.

During the campaign, running from 18– 24 April, shoppers will receive a 30% discount in-store in exchange for the unwanted or worn out clothes they bring in – an increase on the normal 15% discount for shoppers donating unwanted clothing.

H and M Recycle Week
H&M’s Oxford Circus store is one of the branches taking part in the company’s ‘World Recycle Week’ (Picture: letsrecycle.com)

In 2013, the Swedish fashion brand launched a global garment collection initiative – meaning participating customers could exchange a bag of their unwanted clothing for a £5 voucher to spend in store. The high-street retailer claims that since the initiative launched, 25,000 tonnes of unwanted clothing has been collected.

According to H&M once delivered in-store customers’ unwanted garments are shipped to one of seven sorting plants worldwide. Here, they are sorted into three streams which will see them either re-worn and sold as second-hand items, re-used as cloths or upholstery, or recycled to become new fabric and potentially new items.

Collected clothes in the UK are shipped to Germany and sorted by the companies partner I:Collect (I:CO) at its Wolfen textile recycling plant. I:CO, which is part of the SOEX Group, says that generally up to 30% of collected items are able to be recycled. Before being shipped, the UK material is thought to be processed by the European Recycling Company, part of I:CO/SOEX.

As well as H&M, retail partners of I:CO include Levi’s, The North Face and Forever 21.

Positive

H&M’s head of sustainability Anna Gedda said of the global initiative: “World Recycle Week is about changing people’s behaviour when it comes to caring for their clothes.

“Seeing how much unwanted clothes we’ve collected since launching the garment collecting initiative, we know that there’s a huge interest from our customers to be more conscious in how they enjoy fashion – and we want them to be a part of the solution.”

Ms Gedda added: “I’m positive we’ll be able to collect 1,000 tonnes during World Recycle Week.”

‘Close the Loop’

h&m closed loop fashion
The hopes to ‘close the loop’ for textiles in fashion

As one of the world’s largest fashion retailers with over 3,600 worldwide stores, H&M claims that through initiatives such as in-store collection, it will be able to ‘close the loop’ in fashion, recycling unwanted garments to create recycled textile fibres for new products.

The company has already produced a recycled denim ‘Close the Loop’ collection which became available in September 2015. Items in the collection were made of up to 20% recycled cotton from collected clothes and 80% organic cotton.

At the time, chief executive of H&M Karl-Johan Persson said: “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.”

Ms Gedda commented: “We want to create a closed loop for fashion where old clothes can be turned into new ones without using additional materials.

“We still have more to do, but already today we make so-called closed-loop products from recycled denim fabric from the garments you hand in.”

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