A series of initiatives are starting to grow within the market, and they are not simply related to single brands’ reselling initiatives, but go beyond that because they are focused on collecting, sorting, selling and recycling all unwanted textiles, no matter what brand or company they belong to.
What before was managed by non-profit entities like charities, by textile manufacturers that buy textile waste to tear to pieces, grind and recycle old textiles waste of different kinds is now involving retailers like H&M, denim manufacturers such as Isko, both involved in wider projects, or simply generating new start-ups like Retold Recycling.
Is this trend here to stay? Will we see a further mushrooming of this kind? Let’s see what already exists.
How H&M wants to scale textile recycling
Among some of the most recent initiatives there is Looper Textile Co., a standalone joint venture owned 50% by H&M Group and 50% by Remondis, a long-time expert in waste management, with know-how in sorting solutions at scale.
“We are excited to announce the launch of Looper Textile Co. Used and unwanted garments must first be collected and sorted into different streams, such as by type of material or garment, in order to be reused or recycled. Today, less than 40% of used clothes are collected in the EU. Consequently, 60% of post-consumer textiles go directly to waste. By building infrastructure and solutions for collection and sorting, we hope to move one step closer toward enabling circularity, thereby minimizing the CO2-impact and improving resource efficiency” said Emily Bolon, CEO, Looper Textile Co.
H&M Group claims to be the first fashion company to launch a garment collecting initiative worldwide in 2013 and has, through its investment arm H&M Co:Lab, invested in companies that develop technologies to enable textile recycling. With the creation of this standalone joint venture, H&M Group wants to participate more directly in the infrastructure that is necessary to close the loop of fashion.
Looper’s aims to become a preferred feedstock provider to companies and innovators engaged in textile resale and recycling. Looper is starting its operations in Europe and aims to extend the highest use of approximately 40 million garments during 2023. The company plans to innovate within textile collection and sorting, for example by testing new collection schemes and implementing automated sorting technologies such as near-infrared sorting, as well as by developing an assortment of partners in the areas of reuse and recycling.
How Isko plays its part
Within a recent talk held at Munich Fabric Start focused on circularity, Isko, the global denim manufacturer, spoke about a new project the company is involved with and is related to textile recycling and the production of new fabrics and apparel from that.
“Isko is fully engaged in circularity, through special initiatives, services and products. Through a new own division we can offer garment services to clients, and we can also collect used garments from them,” she continued, while explained how the company has developed a new technology that can solve some technical problems tied to recycling old textiles.
Retelling the past is the future
New consumer services are also springing up offering new perspectives with the aim to responsibly divert textile waste from landfill.
Retold Recycling is a California-based start-up that offers a sustainable mail-in service for recycling any and all unwanted clothing and household textiles.
This company offers ready-to-ship Retold bags to fill with unwanted clothing and textiles. Anyone who wants to throw away old textiles can buy plastic-free Retold bags from biodegradable and compostable cornstarch that come pre-labeled with postage prepaid.
Since its birth in 2020 when it was founded by Amelia Trumble and Alan Yeoh, Retold Recycling has recycled almost 50 tons of old textiles.