Swedish fast fashion chain H&M has invested a lot of effort as well as money in sustainable initiatives. One example includes the retailer’s ‘Close the Loop’ campaign, which invites consumers to bring garments that are no longer used to the store in exchange for a discount. The latest initiative is the Global Change Award: a global competition open to anyone who has an idea on how to make fashion more sustainable. On February 1st, H&M announced the five winning ideas of the competition, including creating new textile from citrus peel and growing textile under water.
The jury, which consisted of eight people from the fashion industry as well as academics, chose five ideas which they believe are most likely to bring about a change in the fashion industry. From February 1 until February 7, consumers can cast their vote to determine how much money should be awarded to each idea. In total, the non profit-organization H&M Conscious Foundation will invest 1 million euros in further developing these ideas.
One of the winning ideas centres around the development of a polyester digester: a microbe which eats the material while simultaneously transforming it onto new polyester. Another idea which made it to the top 5, revolves around using algae to create a new type of raw material which can then be used for the production of renewable textile. Other ideas included the usage of citrus by-products for the creation of yarn, making waste-cotton new with a specially developed solvent and setting up an online marketplace where manufacturers can sell textile spill to designers.
”The response of the first Global Change Award is overwhelming,” said H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson. In addition to being the CEO of the company his father founded in 1947, the entrepreneur is a board member of the H&M Conscious Foundation. “Over 2,700 innovators from 112 countries shared their ideas to help close the loop for fashion. The winning innovations are important contributions in the journey towards a circular fashion industry. Now, we invite the public to use their voice and influence how much funding each idea should get.” The idea which receives the majority of votes will be rewarded with 300,000 euros, the runner-up is set to receive 250,000 and for the other ideas there will be a 150,000 prize. The result of the voting is set to be announced during a ceremony held in Stockholm on February 10.
For all the winning ideas, H&M offers ‘The Innovation Accelerator’: a one year programme which supports the participants in developing their innovations. The accelerator was founded by H&M in collaboration with Accenture and Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
”The Global Change Award rewards truly out-of-the-box thinking in utilizing advanced technological approaches to make the fashion industry more sustainable – for example, creating less environmental waste and using less energy – while making fashion products that are even more appealing,” stated Ellis Rubinstein, CEO of The New York Academy of Sciences and member of the competition’s jury. “In this sense, the five winning innovations all have the potential to be truly game-changing.”
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