H&M magic machine – turns old clothes into yarn

Nov 13, 2020

Have you ever wondered what happens to your old t-shirt you throw away? Sure, we give away as much as we can, but we don’t always, do we? And what happens then? Trash can. Rubbish heap. Landfill. Even if we all only throw away a couple of items a year, well, there are almost 8 billion of us on this earth, so that’s a lot of clothes ending up in landfills.

I know what you’re thinking – at least they’re biodegradable, meaning they’ll break down and decompose over time. But, while cotton is natural, most other fabrics are synthetic, like polyester or nylon. In fact 60% of all the world’s clothes are synthetic, according to the UN.

That means a polyester shirt will take at least 20 years to decompose at best, but could take 200 years. And worse – those microplastics get into our water supply both during manufacturing process (when the clothes are made in factories) and when they are washed.

Good news. A magic recycling machine is here.

Listen to our loop-tastic story in Episode 20 of Newsy Pooloozi!

Yep, the clothing giant H&M teamed up with some clever scientists from Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) to turn our old synthetic clothes into new clothes.

Here’s how it works:

The Looop machine first sanitizes the clothes.  Then the old clothes are shredded into tiny bits and divided into different clumps of fibre.  Then – get this – that fibre is pressed and pulled, this way and that way, and eventually is turned into yarn to reuse and sew brand new clothes!

Best of all Looop is pretty small, quite quiet and clean. So other shops,  or even malls, can set this up to help more people recycle their clothes.

And if you want to see the magic machine for yourself, take a look at this super cool video: