H&M, 1 Million Euro, and the Future

» Posted by on Sep 22, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

There have been a number of sustainability competitions and cash awards in the past few years, and H&M’s recent effort to promote recycling technologies is another great example of a larger industry shift. All of these initiatives are great, necessary, and we certainly hope to see an explosion of better, lower impact fibers in the market as a result.

But what about the technologies that already exist? Evrnu, Recover, Re:newcell, Worn Again, Unifi, and Teijin (along with many other recyclers and brands) are blazing trails toward a brighter future with better products. While these solutions are not perfect, they are innovative, motivated, and headed in the right direction. Which begs the question…

Do we need more recycling technologies?

Yes, AND… there are big gaps between business as usual and widespread use of better fibers. The two biggest, from our perspective, are #1) lack of knowledge and #2) getting old clothes to feed recycling technologies.

#1: Brand Education

Product doesn’t magically create itself… People design, manufacture, market, and distribute the products we buy. And a large proportion of these people do not understand how they can make small decisions both at work and at home to increase the use of better fibers.

In order to change the industry as we know it, brand employees have to know how to make better choices, big and small. Brand employees are also a powerful force within their communities. When they speak, others listen. If they talk about great product made in a better way, consumers will listen and begin to demand more of it.

#2: Clothes to Feed Technologies

Simply put, it’s really hard to recycle old clothes into new ones. It’s expensive to prepare them for recycling technologies, and far too many are still thrown away. A cost-effective system to collect, sort, and prep old clothes to be made into new ones simply does not exist. This is both a challenge and a great opportunity.

We are thrilled to see more companies looking at improving the apparel industry. These efforts should be focused first on helping brand employees make great choices, next on making it cheaper to recycle used garments, and finally on creating new technologies for the future.

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