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H&M Taps Renewcell to Create Circulose Fibers for Millions of Garments

Fast fashion titan H&M Group is continuing to take steps toward a more sustainable future through an expanded partnership with Swedish textile recycling company Renewcell.

On Thursday, the retailer announced that the working relationship would supply H&M with thousands of tons of virgin quality Circulose fibers, which are made from unusable textile waste like old jeans, T-shirts, and other clothing discarded at an industrial scale. The development brings the brand closer to its goal of achieving circularity, H&M said in a statement, while helping to drive the agenda for sustainability across the industry by supporting material innovation.

One reason that the fashion sector’s adoption of circular fibers has been lagging, the group said, is because of the low availability of these solutions at scale. The partnership between H&M and Renewcell will give the supplier a significant boost, as the fiber maker is slated to create enough Circulose over the course of the next five years to produce millions of garments across H&M’s different brands.

“In continuing our long-term partnership with Renewcell, this agreement is an important milestone not only for H&M Group, but also for the wider industry in terms of having a circular product like theirs available at scale,” H&M’s head of sustainability, Pascal Brun, said in a statement.

“To become fully circular and achieve our 2030 goal that all our materials should be either recycled or sourced in a more sustainable way, we need to ensure materials such as Circulose are a core part of our material portfolio going forward,” Brun addef.

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H&M has been a longtime partner to Renewcell, having first partnered with the startup upon its inception in 2012. In 2017, the retailer’s investment arm, CO:LAB, committed to funding the textile recycler’s advancement and expansion, and H&M became the first retailer to use Circulose fibers in March when it debuted its Conscious Exclusive collection. A blue day dress inspired by the French Riviera was the introductory H&M product made with Circulose.

Circulose is a “climate-friendly” textile fiber that closes the loop on fashion at scale, reducing waste and greenhouse-gas emissions.

“This is the piece that finally proves—recycling finally works,” Circulose head of brand Harald Cavalli-Björkman said at the time.

“We are proud to have taken the next step in our long relationship with H&M Group, a global industry leader that once again puts its words into action to change fashion,” Patrik Lundström, Renewcell’s CEO, said of the partnership. “I believe that this kind of partnership will become a model for how fashion brands integrate innovations to reduce their negative impact on climate and the environment.”

In December, H&M will release its newest Conscious Collection, containing a number of eco-friendly textiles and materials—some debuting on the market for the first time.

Circular Systems’ Agraloop Biofiber, which is made from oil-seed hemp waste, and Naia Renew, a closed-loop cellulosic fiber made with 60 percent wood pulp and 40 percent recycled plastic waste, will both be used in the construction of taffeta and jacquard evening gowns. We aRe SpinDye’s SpinDye technology, an environmentally friendly dyeing method, and Made of Air, a carbon-negative plastic, are also used in apparel and sunglasses from the line.