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H&M Launches Global Change Award To Further Textile Recycling

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Energy & Environment
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When it comes to Swedish clothing retailer H&M, the news just gets better. Earlier this week, I covered the company’s new denim clothing line made from recycled materials. On August 25, H&M Conscious Foundation, a nonprofit global foundation, announced the launch of its Global Change Award for textile recycling innovation. It’s the first year of the award which will reward five winners, chosen by a jury, with a shared grant of $1.16 million.

H&M creates fast fashion and sells it globally. It’s also a company that strives to reduce its environmental impact. The Global Change Award is one way that the retailer is addressing the struggle to meet its goal of incorporating more recycled materials into its designs.

The winners will also have access to an innovation accelerator, in collaboration with Accenture and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. The winners will get support and knowledge from the innovation accelerator, beginning with an innovation boot camp by KTH and then guidance from Accenture. The winners will also be part of a one-year training and coaching program.

H&M is involving the public in the selection process. The public will be allowed to vote online about the distribution of half the grant. The results will be unveiled at an award ceremony in Stockholm in February 2016.

“Ground-breaking, game-changing ideas can come from anywhere, so the challenge is open to anyone,” said Karl-Johan Persson, board member of the H&M Conscious Foundation and CEO of H&M. “Each year the Global Change Award aims to find the truly brave and bold ideas that make change. I’m also eager to see how the fashion industry as a whole will embrace the challenge of closing the loop.”

Reducing textile waste is badly needed, as a paper by law student Celia Kerr reveals. In New York City alone, more than 200,000 tons of textiles are thrown away every year. In 2012, used textiles accounted for an estimated 14.3 million tons of waste, according to the EPA, or 5.7 percent of total municipal solid waste stream. The recycling recovery rate was only 15.7 percent. That means most used textiles, those unwanted pieces of clothing so many of us chuck in the garbage, wound up in a landfill. Garbage in a landfill emits methane, a greenhouse gas with a warming potential 21 times that of carbon dioxide.

H&M proves that a fast fashion company can help make a dent in the millions of textiles thrown away. “We must take significant, immediate action to minimize the strain of our fast fashion addiction,” Kerr wrote. Clearly, the Swedish clothing retailer with a global reach understands that action is needed.

Image credit: H&M

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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