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H&M puts a new spin on old clothes thanks to Hong Kong tech

An H&M store in Stockholm is piloting a textiles recycling programme, called Looop, that spins old fibres into new clothing.

The project is said to be the world’s first in-store clothing recycling system and a big step toward circular fashion. In eight steps, the machine cleans, shreds, and knits old and unwanted clothing into new materials without using water or dye. Looop combines the fibres from the recycled clothing with a fraction of sustainably sourced material to strengthen the yarn, since shredding shortens the fibres.

‘Nothing’s too tattered or torn to be recycled — and no clothes should ever end up in the trash,’ according to H&M. ‘Unless people bring their old garments back into the system, there’d be no clothes to make new ones out of.’

The non-profit H&M Foundation developed the technology behind Looop in collaboration with the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (read about its free circular fashion webinar here).

H&M started recycling clothing at its stores back in 2013. The brand reports it collected 29 005 tonnes of unwanted clothes and textiles through its Garment Collecting programme in 2019. ‘That’s 40% more than the previous year, the equivalent of 145 million T-shirts.’

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