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H&M is making old clothes new. Here’s how

H&M is changing the way we get rid of our tattered old clothes.

H&M recently partnered with the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel to create the world’s first in-store clothing recycling system — a series of machines that turn worn out garments into new ones.
Mark Lennihan, Associated Press

H&M is changing the way we get rid of our tattered old clothes.

The fashion-retail company recently partnered with the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel to create the world’s first in-store clothing recycling system — a series of machines that turn worn out garments into new ones.

The system, called Looop, shreds old apparel into component fibers, cleans and presses them into longer fibers, and then weaves those fibers into yarn before turning them into brand new clothes, according to GoodNewsNetwork.org.

H&M released a statement about the new machine on its website last month:

“To fight climate change, we need to change fashion. One way of doing this is (through) circular solutions. If we use, for example, a recycled cotton shirt to make a new shirt, there’s no need to grow more cotton. We can just use what’s already been produced. That’s circular fashion. And that’s what Looop is all about. ... It’s a reminder to treat all clothes as a resource. Nothing’s too tattered or torn to be recycled — and no clothes should ever end up in the trash.”

An analysis from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests that fashion waste could make up as much as 5% of U.S. landfill capacity. and fabrics account for approximately 10% of the nation’s methane emissions, according to GoodNewsNetwork.org.

The new clothing recycling system doesn’t use any dyes or water. Instead, it relies on the recycled clothes for the new garment’s color. According to H&M’s statement, “the only thing added (to the new product) is some sustainably sourced material to strengthen the yarn. This has to be done since the mechanical shredding shortens the fibers of your old garment ... We want your new garment to be loved and reloved for as long as possible.”

Looop’s process of turning old garments into new ones is completed in eight steps. The system has eight assembly line-style machines that are designed to be delivered around the world in standard 40-foot shipping containers, according to GoodNewsNetwork.org.

“Right now, Looop is the only in-store recycling machine, but HKRITA will license the technology widely to help the entire industry become more circular,” the statement reads. “This is important, because to create real change, all brands need access to technologies like Looop.”

Check out the video below to see Looop in action.