Fashion giant H&M helps to produce energy with its discarded clothes in Sweden

Sweden-headquartered H&M is taking discarded clothing to a combined heat and power (CHP) station in Stockholm, according to media reports.

The CHP station in Vasteras, northwest of Stockholm, is converting from oil-and coal-fired generation to become a fossil fuel-free facility by 2020, according to a report in Bloomberg.

In a statement, H&M stated that it will only incinerate clothes that it cannot sell.

Jens Neren, head of fuel supplies at Malarenergi, a utility which owns and operates the plant in Stockholm, told Bloomberg: “For us it’s a burnable material. Our goal is to use only renewable and recycled fuels.”

The Vasteras plant has burned around 15 tonnes of discarded clothes so far in 2017, compared with around 400,000 tonnes of rubbish.

In a statement on the company’s website, H&M said it was rare for the firm to send its products for incineration. The company stated that it was “only done when they do not fulfill our safety regulations, if they are mould infested or do not fulfill our strict chemical requirements”.

It added: “We are very concerned as to why some media would suggest that we would destroy usable clothing. There is absolutely no reason for us to do such a thing.

“Products stopped for other reasons than health and safety are either donated to charity organisations or reused through reuse/recycling companies. Those products in stores that are not sold at full price are sold at a reduced price through our sales.”

Bioenergy in Sweden

Sweden does not have its own sources of fossil energy. Today, around 54% of Sweden’s energy comes from renewable energy sources. Bioenergy accounts for one third of all energy used, including lighting, industrial production and transport.  Around 24% of energy use in Sweden’s transport sector is based on alternative fuels.

According to Bengt-Erik Lofgren, CEO and founder of AFAB and coordinator of the Swedish Pellet Association, Sweden is one of the world’s largest wood pellet users.

In an article for Bioenergy Insight’s July/August 2017 edition, he wrote that Sweden uses 1.6 million tonnes of wood pellets, which are used equally in the CHP, industrial and domestic sectors. It imports pellets primarily from Estonia and Russia. The country exports to Denmark.

As a result, according to Lofgren, Sweden is largely independent of imports from other countries for its energy supply. Energy is mainly produced locally, and the energy supply generates jobs and contributes a lot of money to the local economy instead of exporting it to other regions and countries.

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