This Power Plant Is Fuelled By H&M Clothes

Photo: Courtesy of Robert Lindholm.

Discarded clothing from retail chain H&M has been successfully fuelling a Swedish power plant, according to a story published by Bloomberg. A station located in Västerås, a city west of Stockholm, has replaced oil-and-coal-fueled power in an effort to continue the region’s mission to become a fossil-fuel-free nation.

If replacing one non-sustainable resource with another, well, non-sustainable resource sounds like a solution leading to a dead end, then it’s worth emphasising that the power plant is using the clothing that H&M is unable to sell.

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

Thanks to Sweden’s hydro, nuclear, and wind plants, it has quickly become a blueprint of what large corporations and the government can do to enact more sustainable practices. This is just one piece of the pie.

“For us it’s a burnable material,” said Jens Neren, head of fuel supplies at Malarenergi AB, a utility which owns and operates the 54-year-old plant, to Bloomberg. “Our goal is to use only renewable and recycled fuels.”

As for the plant in Västerås, Bloomberg noted that it replaced burning 400,000 tonnes of rubbish with 15 tons of H&M clothing instead. Now that is certainly sustainable. Sounds like fast fashion could be the coal industry’s biggest threat.

Over the last several years, the phrase “eco-fashion” has become an abstract catchall for fashion and practices that are better for the environment. However, in recent years we’ve seen more details about what that truly means. From sweatshirts that will last for 30 years, to fabrics made from pineapple, it’s clear that green fashion and green business practices are getting creative.