Protecting the planet

Ensure living conditions by working to protect the planet.

Within the focus area Planet, we have initiated the Global Change Award to reinvent the fashion industry. In addition to this, we have entered a partnership with The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textile and Apparel to develop new technologies for textile recycling, to address the problems with recycling textile blends.


The global change award

The Global Change Award is an annual innovation challenge, initiated by the H&M Foundation in 2015. By catalysing early innovations which can accelerate the shift from a linear to a circular fashion industry, the aim is to ensure our living conditions by protecting the planet.  The Global Change Award is one of the world’s biggest challenges for early stage innovation and the first such initiative in the fashion industry.

Every year, an expert panel selects five ideas that share a grant of €1 million and get access to a one-year innovation accelerator provided by the H&M Foundation, Accenture and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. The €1 million grant is divided between the five innovations by the global public through an annual online vote.



What if we could reinvent fashion?

What if we could make a shift from “take-make-waste” to a fashion world where there is no waste? What materials would we use? What would the processes and business models look like?

Catalysing new technologies
for textile recycling

Edwin Keh, Chief Executive Officer of The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Erik Bang, Project Manager at H&M Foundation
Edwin Keh, Chief Executive Officer of The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Erik Bang, Project Manager at H&M Foundation

To fully close to loop in the textile industry, commercial methods on how to recycle textile blends needs to be developed. Today it’s possible to mechanically recycle single fabrics such as denim jeans and wool jumpers. However it’s not possible to recycle blend textiles, such as cotton/polyester, on a large scale with a satisfactory quality. The use of blend textiles is increasing fast, which is why this is a pressing challenge.

To change this, H&M Foundation and The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) initiated a partnership in 2016, to conduct research and develop new technologies on textile recycling. The aim is to develop at least one ready technology to be used for commercial purposes.

The Hong Kong Government is keen to encourage companies to be innovative and upgrade their technological level. This is why the collaboration is supported by the Hong Kong Government through its Innovation and Technology Fund, who will provide substantial research funding and further support. 

A unique outcome of the collaboration is that any findings will be available for anyone. The technology will be licensed widely to ensure maximum impact. “This is one of the biggest and most comprehensive efforts ever for textile recycling,” says Erik Bang, Project Manager at H&M Foundation.

“HKRITA is very excited about the work in this series of applied research projects. We aim to develop technologies that are scalable and commercially viable.”

Edwin Keh, Chief Executive Officer of The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel

The project is funded by the surplus from H&M’s global garment collecting program. The total surplus is donated by H&M to H&M Foundation. Half of the surplus is allocated to research on textile recycling and the other half is donated to equality projects. The H&M Foundation will contribute with an estimated donation of Euro 5.8 million to the HKRITA project during 2016-2020.

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