H&M calls it the Green Machine: a piece of technology it says is the first to separate and recycle polyester and cotton-blended clothing at scale. Later this month, Monki, the Gen Z targeting womenswear brand owned by H&M, will drop the first commercial products made using its recycled fibres.
The collection — a £40 hooded sweatshirt and matching £40 sweatpants — is recyclable through the same system, an option the brand is facilitating by eschewing metal grommets, plastic drawstring tips and other components that would complicate the largely manual end-of-life stripping and sorting process. Because of the limited quantities of reclaimed polyester available, the product run is small by necessity: Monki made only 120 pieces of each design in the collection, which it mixed with organic cotton to generate a soft jersey feel.
It’s a modest achievement, but one that may represent a turning point for an industry that struggles with waste and relies heavily on virgin polyester, which made up 52 per cent of global fibre production in 2019, according to a 2020 market report by Textile Exchange.