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Jul 05, 2017

Money for old rope

by Jackie Marshall - Senior Account Director

Money for old rope

Standing in the queue waiting to return some clothing to M&S recently, I noticed the Shwop Drop Bin giving me the opportunity to donate unwanted clothes. It got me thinking about the growing trend for brands and retailers seeing the benefit of integrating a sustainability strategy at the heart of their business. They are discovering the win-win strategy of encouraging more customer engagement and at the same time doing good for the planet.

Clothing recycling

The M&S Shwopping scheme, run in conjunction with Oxfam, is one of the major initiatives run by clothing stores to tackle the problem of the reported 350,000 tonnes of unwanted clothes ending up in landfill every year.

M&S customers are rewarded with 50 sparks points for each time they donate clothes via the Shwop Drop Bins in-store. Items deposited are resold, reused or recycled allowing Oxfam to resource and fund vital projects in the UK and around the world. Since the introduction of this scheme in 2008, an impressive 20 million items have been donated, worth an estimated £16m for Oxfam’s work.

US denim giant Levi Strauss announced the roll-out of its clothing recycling initiative in the UK in March 2016. Working in collaboration with I:Collect (I:CO), the service provider responsible for the physical reuse and recycling of clothing, footwear and other textiles. In return for their donation, Levi Strauss & Co. give customers a voucher for 10% off a single, regular-priced Levi’s item in-store.

H&M’s commitment to sustainability earned it a place in the Corporate Knights’ 2016 100 Most Sustainable Corporation in the World Index, one of only four fashion companies awarded with a place. Again, working in collaboration with I:CO, the fashion retailer rewards customers with a £5 voucher for clothes donated in-store.

In-store battery recycling

Other excellent initiatives I have found included this in-store battery recycling scheme. Appropriately, on Earth Day, 22nd April this year, Co-op Norway and Swedish Firm Refind launched a reverse vending machine funded by Energizer encouraging people to recycle their flat batteries. The scheme works whereby shoppers drop their dead batteries into the machine. This scans and tallies up the batteries deposited and prints out a coupon which can then be used to purchase new batteries. The initiative is a great example of how a brand working in conjunction with a retailer can create buzz and excitement in-store driving traffic and engagement and at the same time encouraging participation in this positive environmental scheme.

Limiting “peak stuff” impact

Steve Howard, Ikea’s chief sustainability officer boldly stated that Westerners had reached “peak stuff”. Aware of the company’s own contribution to the ever increasing landfill challenge, the business is trialing a number of initiatives aimed at reducing the problem.  In Finland, IKEA FAMILY members can exchange their unwanted IKEA furniture for an IKEA gift card.

Gillian Drakeford, Country Retail Manager IKEA UK & IE, sums up the mood of progressive businesses aware of their environmental responsibility. “It’s been a strong year for our business, including our sustainability performance. You can’t have one without the other”.

Now when I’m out shopping, I keep my eyes peeled for further ways in which I can contribute. With a win-win all round, these initiatives are really worth supporting.

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