Beginning February 2013, customers will be able to donate used garments — any piece of clothing will be accepted, of any brand — at all H&M stores in the chain’s 48 markets worldwide. I:Co then repurposes the collected clothes, and customers will receive a voucher for each bag of clothing they donate.
According to H&M, as much as 95 percent of clothes that end up in a landfill every year could be re-worn, reused or recycled. The company says it wants to reduce the environmental impact of garments throughout the lifecycle and create a closed loop for textile fibers.
In April, Marks & Spencer announced its Shwopping campaign, which also encourages customers to recycle old clothing at M&S clothing stores. The retailer, which set a goal of recycling as many clothes as it sells — 350 million a year — gives all of the “shwopped” clothes to Oxfam.
The new clothing collection initiative is the most recent addition to H&M’s Conscious program, intended to create more sustainable fashion, the retailer says. This includes being the No. 1 user of organic cotton worldwide and banning perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, in all of its products ordered after Jan. 1, 2013.
Last year, H&M debuted its environmentally friendly fashion line, the Conscious Collection, made from sustainable materials including organic and recycled fibers.
But in March of this year, Greenpeace alleged that clothing from H&M, Adidas, Ralph Lauren and Nike, among others, discharges a significant amount of hazardous chemicals into water systems when washed by customers. Among the samples that Greenpeace tested, those companies’ clothes emitted the highest percentage of nonylphenol ethoxylates on the first wash, according to “Dirty Laundry: Reloaded: How big brands are making consumers unwitting accomplices in the toxic water cycle.“