It was over a month ago when Danish TV programme Operation X accused H&M of burning 60 tonnes of unsold clothing. H&M then denied the accusations and a spokesperson said ‘The clothes featured in the program are stopped orders that have been sent to incineration because of mould or not complying with our strict chemical restrictions.
The Danish TV programme then took two garments from the incineration plant and tested them to find nothing. H&M published their own findings as well – high levels of lead and mould which the Danish did not test for. Sweden’s Prime Minister for the Environment, Karolina Skog said ‘the first question that strikes me is why are there so high levels of chemicals in the product that they can not be sold.’
Unfortunately the incineration of harmful, dangerous or unwanted clothing is still common practice and not only H&M was found guilty. Vero Moda, Only and Jack & Jones were splashed with accusations too. H&M nevertheless has captured the media’s attention with their alleged interest and commitment to recycling.
H&M in a statement to FashionUnited responded ‘all products that are safe to use are sold in our stores or are reused and recycled. In addition, we want our customers to know that the clothes we have collected in our stores through our garment collecting initiative are directly sent for reuse and recycling.’
As well as burning 19 tonnes of new clothes in Västeras in 2016, the Swedish Company has now been found guilty of falsely claiming the donation of goods to charities.
H&M claimed on their website that Caritas, Red Cross and Oxfam have received clothing from them. This has been denied by the charities. Communications manager at Oxfam Sweden said ‘Of course it’s regrettable when the published information is wrong. It’s sad if our brand is used in this way’.
The Swedish company declared the information on their website to be out-dated, instead giving the name of another charity they donate to – Helping Hands. Yet this one stated to have terminated collaboration with H&M and having not received any clothes in a year and a half. H&M then decided to remove any content from their website that involved charities.
The clothing brand has set up goals to remove all hazardous chemicals from its products by 2020. We’ll have to wait and see…