H&M In-Store Recycling Machine Turns Old Clothes into New Threads—A World First

Fashion recycling, beyond simply reselling clothes, is a little behind other material recycling processes in terms of technology. But one of Europe’s largest and most popular labels, H&M, is establishing the world’s first in-store combination shredder and knitter of old clothes to tackle the problem head on.

Looop, the machine that shreds old clothes into component fibers, cleans and presses them into longer fibers, and weaves them into yarn before creating brand new garments, was developed by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) in collaboration with the non-profit H&M Foundation.

“To fight climate change, we need to change fashion,” reads a statement on the fashion retailer’s website.

Indeed, analysis from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests that fashion waste may make up as much as 5% of landfill capacity, while also producing 10% of the nation’s total methane emissions.

Looop uses no additional dyes or water, relying instead solely on the color of the scrapped clothes. The process is completed on an assembly line of eight machines that are sold like a 40-foot long piece of furniture that can be easily shipped around the world in a standard shipping container.

Looop is installed at Drottninggatan 56 in Stockholm, Sweden, but the technology is available for any fashion brands that want to employ it.

“It’s a reminder to treat all clothes as a resource. Nothing’s too tattered or torn to be recycled—and no clothes should ever end up in the trash.”