Hennes & Mauritz AB, the Swedish clothing chain popularly known as H&M, will now offer its customers the option to turn their discarded clothes into a new wearable garment, within five hours.
In its effort to tackle the rising challenges related to global clothing waste, the company will start giving its consumers, at its Stockholm store, the option to turn in used garments that it will then transform into one of three different clothing items.
Realising the fast fashion is increasingly contributing to the textile waste menace, H&M customers will now be able to visit the store with a garment they don't want, which will be cleaned and put into the recycling system called 'Looop'.
The in-store machine will disassemble it, shredding it into fibres that are then used to create new clothing. The company stated that the recycling process, which can handle more than one garment at a time, doesn't use water or chemicals. It sometimes might need "sustainably sourced" raw materials added in, but it hopes to make "this share as small as possible."
The entire recycling process will take about five hours and will be visible to shoppers. Reports suggest that customers can choose one of three items to be made including a sweater, a baby blanket or a scarf which will involve a fee of $11 to $16.
"We are looking to expand the range available as we get to know Looop better," the company said in an email to CNNBusiness.
H&M said the system is currently only available in Sweden, where H&M is based. It did not at the moment reveal what future plans it may have to expand Looop, if any.
While the recycling system could help spread awareness about clothing waste and the benefits of reusing clothes, for now, it lacks the scale to make any widespread impact on the volume of clothing waste generated annually. However, it can be seen as a step towards the bigger sustainability goals.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency's website, 16.9 million tons of textile waste was generated in the United States in 2017, as per latest information. The recycling rate was just 15.2 per cent, with 2.6 million tons recycled.