A Swedish power plant northwest of Stockholm hopes to go fossil fuel free by 2020 – and they’re turning to recycled wood and trash for alternatives, including discarded apparel from retail chain H&M. This year they’ve already burned around 15 tons of H&M clothes.
A power plant owned and operated by Malarenergi AB in the town of Vasteras, Sweden is working to transition away from oil and coal, and are turning to a fuel source you might not expect: discarded garments. Head of fuel supplies Jens Neren told Bloomberg, “For us it’s a burnable material. Our goal is to use only renewable and recycled fuels.”
Sweden boasts a nearly emission-free power system, according to Bloomberg, due to wind, nuclear, and hydro plants. But some local municipalities do use oil and coal for heating on winter days. The country hopes to move away from fossil fuel units by converting old plants to burn trash and biofuels instead.
Where do the H&M clothes come in? Malarenergi has a deal with nearby town Eskilstuna to burn their garbage, and some of that comes from a central warehouse of H&M’s. The clothing company’s head of communications Johanna Dahl told Bloomberg, “H&M does not burn any clothes that are safe to use. However it is our legal obligation to make sure that clothes that contain mold or do not comply with our strict restriction on chemicals are destroyed.”
The Vasteras plant, which supplies power for around 150,000 households, has burned around 400,000 tons of garbage this year. Bloomberg reported earlier this week, the last coal ship docked in the area to drop off supplies to last until 2020 for the plant’s last two fossil fuel generators, which date back to the 1960s. In 2020, the plant will add a wood-fired boiler to help trash- and biofuel-burning units meet demand.