Investigation exposes H&M’s ineffective recycling solution

Investigative journalists from the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet have recently highlighted the environmental problems associated with the disposal of used garments by companies like H&M. The authors were contacted by an anonymous source who claimed that H&M collects used clothes but often sends them to poor countries, where they are dumped or burned without proper control.

The authors hid Apple Airtags on some H&M garments purchased from a second-hand store which were then delivered to H&M for recycling. The clothes were handed in at H&M stores in Stockholm and were supposed to be sorted at a facility outside Berlin, however, it was discovered that the clothes were actually sold to commercial companies in Germany that sort and export second-hand clothes. These companies compress the clothes into large bales, which were then shipped to West Africa where they were resold, destroyed, or discarded in a landfill.

This alarming investigation casts doubts on H&M’s promise to resell clothes that can be re-worn, and also raises concerns that the retail industry is still struggling to deal with end-of-life garments despite increasing pressure to end fast fashion.

To read the full article, including the author’s reporting from Benin and a full breakdown of where these garments end up, visit Aftonbladet’s website.

Read H&M’s response here.

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