H&M Retailer Upcycles Old Clothes Into New

Shoppers in Stockholm can use the instore looop machine.

(Courtesy H&M)

The weather is getting colder and it’s time to dig out those great knit sweaters, scarves and socks. But what do you do with sweaters or socks that no longer fit, have holes, or are no longer fashionable? Now H&M has the perfect solution. You can now transform old textiles into new garments through the Looop recycling machine.

Looop was installed in the Drottninggatan stores in Stockholm on October 12, 2020 to help close the loop in fashion according to a news release from the company. Allowing customers to keep their clothing in use for as long as possible is part of H&M’s plan to become fully circular and climate positive.

“We are constantly exploring new technology and innovations to help transform the fashion industry as we are working to reduce the dependency on virgin resources. Getting customers on board is key to achieve real change and we are so excited to see what Looop will inspire,” Pascal Brun, head of sustainability at H&M said in the news release.

Now, customers can bring in their old knitwear to the store and turn it into new items like baby blankets, women’s jumpers, or scarves in around five hours according to inews. The cost is very reasonable too especially for loyalty club members .  

Old garments that are fed into the Looop recycling machine are cleaned, shredded into fibers, and then spun into new yarn that is used to knit the new items. The system does not use any water or chemicals but some additional sustainably sourced new fabric is added to strengthen the yarn. The news release said that this has a much lower environmental impact than manufacturing garments from scratch.

The Looop machine was created by H&M’s nonprofit foundation, the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel and the Hong Kong based yarn spinner Novetex Textiles. All of the proceeds will be used for research on materials and the company aims for all of its materials to be recycled or sustainably sourced by 2030. The goal of 57 percent by 2019 was met.

Fashion is a very unsustainable industry, with textile production using 93 billion cubic meters of water and produces 26.2 British tonnes of CO2 according to a report from Triad on the impact of clothing. To make things worse, only 1 percent of the materials in clothing are recycled into new garments.

All this makes the Looop recycling machine and initiatives by other companies to make fashion more sustainable by reusing recycled fibers  a way to make a big dent in what goes into landfills and oceans. Making fashion greener is good for our planet.

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