H&M is taking a stand on European legislation. The Swedish fashion retail group has teamed up with German group Remondis, which specializes in waste management, to create a new company that will collect, sort, and resells used clothing and textiles, the company said.
The joint venture, owned 50% by each company, is called Looper Textile and is led by Emily Bolon, Director of Commercial and Strategic Agreements at H&M Group. The chief operating officer is Marc Schubert, who previously held the same position at Remondis. Looper Textile's goal is to become the supplier of choice for companies and innovators involved in the resale and recycling of textiles, as revealed in a press release.
Looper will start operations in Europe and expects to collect around 40 million garments this year. The company will also test new collection and sorting systems, such as near-infrared, and will team up with other partners for reuse and recycling. H&M has put Emily Bolon, the group's director of strategic and commercial partnerships, in charge of Looper Textile.
Currently, less than 40% of used clothing is collected in Europe, so 60% of post-consumer textiles go straight into the trash. By building infrastructure and solutions for collection and sorting, Looper Textile hopes to take a further step toward circularity, thereby minimizing CO2 impact and improving resource efficiency.
Anticipating the Incoming Legislation
The company is thus anticipating European legislation on extended producer responsibility, which will oblige retailers to take responsibility for the collection and processing of textile waste.
Companies can undertake this mission either individually or by creating a collective extended producer responsibility system, known as the Association for the Management of Textile Waste to manage textile and footwear waste generated in the Spanish market (SCRAP). H&M is already part of the first SCRAP that has been created in Spain, which also includes Inditex, Mango, Tendam, Decathlon, Kiabi, and Ikea.
H&M is Benefitting from its Implemented Sustainability Strategy
H&M was a pioneer in developing a sustainability strategy within the fashion retail sector. The company was the first to launch a "more sustainable" collection, in 2011, and also the first to launch a used clothing collection initiative, in 2013. Through its investment with Co:Lab, it has invested in startups such as Sellpy, for second-hand sales; Ambercycle, for recycling; or Renewcell, for recycled fibers.
As indicators of the brand's choice to use eco-conscious materials, it sources responsibly by as all of its cotton is organic, in-conversion, recycled or sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative. It also sources Fair Trade Cotton, and sources recycled materials in regards to Global Recycled Standard requirements.
H&M ended 2022 with 12% sales growth to SEK 223,553 million. However, in the fourth quarter, the company made a loss, with a negative net result of SEK 864 million, compared to the SEK 4,621 million it earned in the same period last year.