H&M says the machine visualises to customers that old textiles hold a value and should never go to waste

H&M says the machine visualises to customers that old textiles hold a value and should never go to waste

The first retail model of the garment-to-garment recycling system pioneered by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) is to make its debut in an H&M store in Sweden.

The Looop recycling system launches in one of H&M's Drottninggatan stores in Stockholm on 12 October. Customers will be able to watch their old clothes being broken down into fibres and yarns to become the raw material for knitted new clothes.

During the process, the garments are cleaned, shredded into fibres and spun into new yarn, which is then knitted into new fashions. Some sustainably sourced virgin materials need to be added during the process, but H&M says it will work to make this share as small as possible. The system uses no water and no chemicals, thus having a significantly lower environmental impact than when producing garments from scratch.

"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," says Pascal Brun, head of sustainability at H&M.

H&M in 2013 became the first fashion retailer with a global garment collecting programme. By 2030, it aims for all its materials to be either recycled or sourced in a more sustainable way, a figure that for 2019 was at 57%.

Swedish consumers can watch Looop transform their old garment into a new item for a price of SEK100 (US$11) for members of H&M's loyalty club, and SEK150 for non members. All proceeds go to projects related to research on materials.

The initiative is enabled by the non-profit H&M Foundation, together with research partner HKRITA and Hong Kong-based yarn spinner Novetex Textiles. just-style first reported on the 'Garment to Garment' recycling process back in 2018 among a number of new developments being set up in the territory.

Says HKRITA CEO Edwin Keh: "By providing new life to our old clothes we can demonstrate that it is possible to use less resources and repurpose what we have. The G2G system allows customers to take charge of the reuse of their own wardrobe. Sustainability can be personal and we can actively participate in the process. It is hoped that G2G will help retailers "do well and do good" at the same time." 

He adds that the original G2G project is currently in its second phase, with work underway to improve the system capacity, optimise its functionality, and automate its various processes. 

Click here to read just-style's interview with Novetex Textiles chairman Ronna Chao.