HM Accused Of Destroying Unworn Garments, Claims It’s In The Name Of Sustainability
3 years ago | News|
Image: Mountains of sorted clothing at one of the facilities where H&M recycles clothing. Image source.
When H&M World Recycle Week was first announced, we knew that it was problematic in principle. Because fast fashion business models are inherently unsustainable and increasing recycling efforts doesn’t simply undo the damage caused by creating too many garments in the first place. But now Swedish television channel SVT has hit out at H&M’s recycling program with an investigation alleging that the retailer has destroyed 60 tons worth of recyclable garments since 2013.
Since those allegations began circulating last week, the Swedish retailer has counterclaimed that the incinerated garments in question were actually contaminated with mould – despite the television station’s tests to the contrary. And now Bloomberg has reported that the waste disposal facility which features on the program was actually working with a combined heat and power station in Vasteras, northwest of Stockholm, in order to produce cleaner energy by burning clothing instead of fuel.
As per Bloomberg, Malarenergi AB owns and operates the 54-year-old plant and plans to make it a fossil fuel-free facility by the year 2020. The facility reportedly supplies power to around 150,000 households and burned as much as 650,000 tons of coal during its peak in 1996. In 2017 to date, the Vasteras plant is thought to have burned about 15 tons of discarded clothes from H&M to produce power. Which is of course a noble mission, if that’s actually what’s taking place.
However, what does complicate this situation somewhat is the discrepancies between reports when it comes to the names and even the geographical locations of the implicated waste disposal facilities. The Fashion Law, along with many other publications, reports that it was actually a Danish facility at the centre of the investigation. Meanwhile Bloomberg celebrates H&M’s ‘sustainability’ efforts and points instead to a number of Swedish facilities at play.
Either way the news has recalled, for some, the 2010 New York Times expose, which found that H&M had been cutting up and dumping unwanted garments at a store on 35th Street in New York. So given that this isn’t the first time the retailer stands accused of destroying usable clothing, perhaps it is time to stop making concessions for their so-called ‘sustainability’ efforts and instead look to the core of their business model and what it says about the company overall. Because, whichever way you look at it, producing more clothes than necessary will never be sustainable.
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