Wish you could turn one of your sad old T-shirts into a new garment? At an H&M store in Stockholm, they’ll do it for you, on a machine called Looop. The system “cleans garments and shreds them into fibers, which are then spun into new yarn, which is knitted into new garments.” The process doesn’t use any water or chemicals and is designed to have a lower environmental footprint than making clothes from new materials.
In order for customers to see this process up close and personal, H&M is inviting them to “bring a garment they’re planning to discard…and watch it get broken down, then rewoven into a sweater, scarf, or baby blanket through the glass walls of the machine.” The process takes about five hours, and when it’s complete, the customer can buy the finished item for $15.
As noted by Erik Bang, innovation lead at the H&M Foundation “We’ve built this machine as a miniaturized version of a real process to show customers how crucial they are to the process” and to motivate them to bring in their old clothes. “Several years ago, we realized we needed to invest heavily in fabric recycling, but one major stopgap would be collecting enough discarded clothes to make this work at scale,” he added.
Fabric recycling is just one part of H&M’s broader sustainability strategy, which includes the goal of becoming climate positive by 2040.