The fast fashion brand partnered with the plant as part of a transition to end fossil fuel use

Despite recycling efforts from the fashion industry, the fact remains that a huge amount of clothing still goes to waste each year. In Sweden, where the majority of the country’s power supply comes from emission-free sources, discarded clothing from fast fashion retailer H&M is being used as part of an energy solution to replace coal.

The 54-year-old power plant, located northwest of Stockholm in the town of Vasteras, is currently in transition to becoming a fossil fuel-free facility by 2020, replacing oil and coal with recycled wood and trash, which includes clothing from H&M that cannot be reused. Malarenergi AB, the utility that operates the plant, has an agreement to burn trash from the neighboring city of Eskilstuna, where H&M’s central warehouse is also located.

“H&M does not burn any clothes that are safe to use,” Johanna Dahl, head of communications for H&M Sweden, told Bloomberg. “However it is our legal obligation to make sure that clothes that contain mold or do not comply with our strict restriction on chemicals are destroyed.”

Sweden, which this year signed legislation that aims to make the country carbon-neutral by 2045, relies on hydroelectric, nuclear and wind as its primary sources of power. In smaller towns like Vasteras, however, some coal and oil are still used to provide heat during the winters. This is on track to change by the end of the decade, however, as the government gradually phases out the last of its fossil fuel plants.

In Vasteras, about 15 tons of discarded H&M clothing have been burned so far in 2017, a small amount compared to the 400,000 tons of trash that were also burned during the same period. This week, the plant received its last-ever shipment of coal supplies that will last until 2020, when a new wood-fired boiler will be added to replace the last of the fossil-fuel generators.

H&M | Malarenergi AB


Lead Image: H&M, Venturelli Luca via Shutterstock

Despite recycling efforts from the fashion industry, the fact remains that a huge amount of clothing still goes to waste each year. In Sweden, where the majority of the country’s power supply comes from emission-free sources, discarded clothing from fast fashion retailer H&M is being used as part of an energy solution to replace coal.

The 54-year-old power plant, located northwest of Stockholm in the town of Vasteras, is currently in transition to becoming a fossil fuel-free facility by 2020, replacing oil and coal with recycled wood and trash, which includes clothing from H&M that cannot be reused. Malarenergi AB, the utility that operates the plant, has an agreement to burn trash from the neighboring city of Eskilstuna, where H&M’s central warehouse is also located.