H&M charges ahead with new recycling program

H&M is taking its clothing recycling initiative global after launching the program in Sweden earlier this year.

Shoppers can take bags of used clothing, which may be from any brand, into H&M stores and will receive a discount voucher in return. Clothes in good condition will then be resold, while poor quality items will be recycled. The retailer hopes to offer the program in all of its international locations by the end of the year.

The move towards eco-friendly policies and sustainability comes after a trying period for H&M. Recently, the retailer experienced weak sales and been publicly pressured to offer fair wages to garment workers after the collapse of a Bangladeshi clothing factory. Three years ago, H&M was also heavily criticized in the media for destroying unsold inventory at a New York City store located near a charity which distributes clothing to the poor.

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Though the new program has earned H&M praise, critics have also chimed in. XO Jane stated that “H&M is trying to combat the very sustainability problems it causes as a leading fast-fashion retailer,” adding the store “thrives on the rapid mass-production of trendy clothes, using cheap materials and even cheaper labour to ensure prices customers won’t complain about.” Additionally, XO Jane said H&M’s recycling program could cause a shortage of donations to charities reliant on used clothing sales, which would also hurt those depending on them for low-priced goods.

However, H&M is also funding research into improving textile fibre recycling, and hopes to purchase all of its cotton from sustainable sources by 2020.

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