Is H&M doing some damage control? Not long after a Swedish broadcast accused the fast-fashion giant of facilitating sweatshop-like conditions overseas, H&M has reaffirmed its commitment to increasing fire-safety awareness among its suppliers and their employees in garment factories in Bangladesh, announced the formalization of a human-rights policy based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and unveiled a sustainably produced urban-cycling capsule collection for men. The retailer’s next charm offensive is a biggie: The launch of a first-of-its-kind clothing-collection initiative that spans all 48 of its markets worldwide.
RETURN TO SENDER
The company says it will help its customers avoid textile waste by accepting items of clothing from any brand and in any condition. Beginning February, for every bag deposited, the customer will receive a voucher to put towards a future H&M purchase. The collected garments will then be handled by I:Collect, a clothing-recycling firm that will reprocess the materials and make them available for new use.
The company plans to help its customers avoid textile waste by accepting items of clothing from any brand and in any condition.
“Our sustainability efforts are rooted in a dedication to social and environmental responsibility,” says Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of H&M. “We want to do good for the environment, which is why we are now offering our customers a convenient solution: to be able to leave their worn-out or defective garments with H&M.”
While this doesn’t change the fact that H&M mostly traffics in disposable clothing, the retailer claims it wants to reduce the environmental impact of its garments by creating a closed loop for textiles.
There’s also a question about the recyclability of cheap, low-grade “Frankenfabrics” that contaminate natural fibers with non-biodegradable synthetics. But H&M insists that as much as 95 percent of the clothes we landfill can be reworn, reused, or recycled, depending on their condition.
H&M follows the lead of Marks & Spencer, which in April introduced a U.K.-wide clothing-recycling program, dubbed “Shwopping,” that rewards shoppers who surrender an unwanted piece of clothing every time they buy a new one.