H&M joins Ellen MacArthur Foundation to 'revolutionise' clothing fibre recycling

International fashion brand H&M has pledged to take ideas from the paper industry to improve the circularity of its clothing fibres, after becoming the latest Global Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

H&M joins Cisco, Google, Kingfisher, Philips, Renault and Unilever as a Global Partner, driving forward circular economy initiatives in their respective industries.

Dame Ellen MacArthur said: “Operating in a key sector of the global economy, H&M’s vision for applying circular models represents a significant opportunity to scale up the transition.

“We are delighted to be working with H&M to build momentum towards the system shift that our economy needs to work in the long term.” 

Paper trail

A statement from the Foundation said that H&M had the potential to “fundamentally shift” the extent to which the clothing sector restores and regenerates fabrics and fibres for productive use, using the paper industry as a role model.

“Taking the perspective that both the paper and textile industries are fibre-based, with the paper industry already having come a long way in terms of recycling, a substantial opportunity exists for the clothing sector to emulate this success and to take it much further with regard to keeping biological and technical based fibres in circulation, at high quality,” read the statement.

H&M is already a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100, which aims to help organisations achieve their circular economy ambitions faster.

The Swedish retailer is one of the industry’s sustainability leading lights, offering a recycled denim range, sourcing sustainable cotton, and currently offering a €1m grant for clothes-recycling innovations among other schemes.

Crunch time

Before H&M, Google was the newest Global Partner of the Foundation, having announced the partnership at the end of September. Unilever joined in January 2014.

The announcement comes at an important time for the fashion , after a report from Gucci-parent company Kering revealed that the sector is uniquely exposed to climate risks.

However the industry is already moving to counteract these risks, led in part by the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), which has seen 82 fashion brands and organisations cut their collective water impact by 12.5% per tonne of clothing since 2013, while carbon impacts have also been cut by 3.5% per tonne.

Brad Allen


Circular economy | unilever | water | ellen macarthur foundation


Waste & resource management

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