This trio comes at a massive ecological and human cost. Aiming to be part of the solution, retailer H&M launches World Recycle Week on 18 April. It plans to capture 1,000 tons of unwanted clothes during the week. Popstar M.I.A. will launch a video for the brand on environmental impact , and the brand will invite customers to drop off old clothes so H&M can “recycle them and create new textile fibre, and in return you get vouchers to use at H&M. Everybody wins!”
Do they? Crunch the numbers and H&M’s claims seem fanciful. Technical issues with commercial fibre recycling mean that only a small percentage of recycled yarn is used in new garments. Using publicly available figures and average clothing weights, it appears it would take 12 years for H&M to use up 1,000 tons of fashion waste.
Meanwhile if 1,000 tons is recycled, that roughly equates to the same amount of clothes a brand of this size pumps out into the world in 48 hours. Then there are the voucher schemes, which often fuel more purchasing.