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H&M and IKEA link up on large-scale study within recycled textiles

Published
today Oct 18, 2019
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H&M is expanding its focus on making fashion greener and revealed on Thursday that it has been collaborating with Ikea on a large-scale study, reviewing chemical content in post-consumer textile recycling. 


H&M and Ikea have been studying the chemical content of post-consumer textiles - DR


The company is using a larger number of recycled materials in its products as one of the key elements in the group’s ambition to become 100% circular and renewable and said that “working strategically to reach our sustainability ambitions, using science and partnerships,” will help it get there.

But it’s aware that simply diving into textiles recycling could cause problems of its own as “the chemical content of collected pre-owned textiles are unknown, so to ensure the safe reuse of materials in the circular system, we must ensure good chemical management.”

Its large-scale study with Ikea, looking at chemical content in post-consumer textile recycling, has been under way since last year, it has just said. 

“Recycled materials are key elements in a circular economy. However, increasing the use of recycled materials whilst ensuring that we keep these textiles free of toxic chemicals presents a challenge for the industry. We’re pleased to announce that H&M Group and IKEA have joined forces in a study to address this challenge,” said Anna Biverstål, Global Business Expert on Materials at H&M Group.

The news was announced at the annual Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference that’s running this week with companies and organisations from more than 25 countries taking part.

The two Swedish retail giants have conducted over 8,000 tests on collected recyclable textiles and think they will “have better possibilities to develop an action plan for the use of recycled textiles, while meeting our strict safety standards.”

In fact, they believe their results could influence the wider industry and form the basis for future legislation. “The ambition for the study is also to use the findings to encourage industry peers towards increased use of recycled textiles,” they said. “The results gathered could potentially also serve as a base for further legislation and standardisation regarding chemicals in recycled textiles.”

The initial focus for the study has been post-consumer cotton, with polyester and wool-rich post-consumer textiles to be included as the study progresses.

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