The Swedish fast fashion clothing giant, H&M, knows it has a pollution problem.
Over the past three years, the company has invested over $100 million into textile recycling machines, new organic and biodegradable fabrics, and even textiles made from microbes that eat carbon dioxide. Now, it's getting into the recycling business.
Alongside Remondis, a massive global recycling company (also based in Germany), H&M is launching Looper Textile Co. It's the company's latest bid to be remembered for its sustainable innovations instead of the fact that it produces 3 billion items of clothing every year and was sitting on $4.1 billion of unused clothes (as of 2019 -- according to a Fast Company article).
Unlike its Big Green Machine that recycles fabric, Looper wants to collect, sort, and sell used and unwanted clothes and fabrics.
Companies like ThredUp, Archive, and Trove are working with specific brands to manage their used and resale stock. And used clothing stores have been taking deadstock (unused or unsold clothes) and used shirts, jeans, dresses, skirts, shoes and sweaters, and selling them for years and years.
With its huge partners, Looper Textile can industrialize the process of collection and reuse.
"Used and unwanted garments must first be collected and sorted into different streams, such as by type of material or garment, in order to be reused or recycled," said Looper chief executive, Emily Bolon, in a statement.. "Today, less than 40% of used clothes are collected in the EU. Consequently, 60% of post-consumer textiles go directly to waste. By building infrastructure and solutions for collection and sorting, we hope to move one step closer toward enabling circularity, thereby minimizing the CO²-impact and improving resource efficiency."
It looks like H&M is trying to build out a circular supply chain, where innovations like the green machine recycles the textile waste collected by Looper Textile into new fabrics that H&M can use to make its clothes.
The company has targeted collecting, sorting, and reusing 40 million garments over the course of the next year (H&M could probably find those clothes in its own warehouses).
"We are convinced that the textile loop, due to its very high complexity, can only be closed with trusting, innovative and like-minded partners along the value chain and are pleased to have found the synergy between H&M Group and Remondis," said Looper chief operating officer, Marc Schubert, in a statement.