H&M’s Looop garment-to-garment recycling machine spins old jumpers into new garments in efforts to show value in recycling

H&M will install a machine at one of its Stockholm stores that pulls old garments apart, spins them into yarn and knits them into a either a sweater, a baby blanket or a scarf.

The fashion retailer, which aims to be carbon positive by 2040, will showcase the garment-to-garment recycling machine in one of its stores in the Swedish capital, where shoppers will be able to watch their old jumpers be knitted in to new garments, on the spot, as the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer looks for new ways to encourage its customers to recycle used garments.

The machine, known as Looop, was developed by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) in co-operation with the H&M foundation. It is a scaled-down version of an industrial-sized model.

Looop uses a technique that dissembles and assembles old garments into new ones. The garments are cleaned, shredded into fibres and spun into new yarn which is then knitted into new fashion finds. Some sustainably sourced virgin materials need to be added during the process.

The Looop system uses no water and no chemicals, thus having a significantly lower environmental impact than when producing garments from scratch.

Pascal Brun, head of sustainability at the H&M brand, said: “We are constantly exploring new technology and innovations to help transform the fashion industry as we are working to reduce the dependency on virgin resources. Getting customers on board is key to achieve real change and we are so excited to see what Looop will inspire.” 

Looop opens to the public in one of H&M’s Drottninggatan stores in Stockholm on October 12. For 100 Swedish kronor, members of H&M’s loyalty club can use Looop to transform their old garment into a new favourite. For non-members the fee is 150 Swedish kronor. All proceeds go to projects related to research on materials. 

Looop is one of a number of sustainability initiatives that the fashion brand is involved in. By 2030 H&M aims for all its materials to be either recycled or sourced in a more sustainable way, a figure that for 2019 was at 57%.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. 

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