John Lewis is incentivising customers to recycle old clothing by offering to buy it back in a pilot scheme it is launching with social enterprise Stuffstr.
Customers can use Stuffstr’s app to request a collection of any clothes they have bought from John Lewis, and no longer use, and they will be paid per item, irrespective of its condition.
The app allows customers to calculate the value of the clothing they have and wish to return and once that value hits £50 they can request a pick-up. John Lewis will then email a £50 gift voucher. Items returned are either mended and resold (not in John Lewis stores) or recycled into other products.
John Lewis already operates schemes to enable the return of old furniture and electrical items and says the latest move will help it to reduce the estimated 30,000 tonnes of fashion waste that goes to landfill each year.
“We already take back used sofas, beds and large electrical items such as washing machines and either donate them to charity or reuse and recycle parts and want to offer a service for fashion products,” John Lewis sustainability manager Martyn White.
The move by John Lewis follows on from the launch earlier this year of an app that allows consumers to return items from any brand and earn rewards and incentives from their favourite brands and retailers for doing so. reGAIN is the brainchild of entrepreneur Jack Ostrowski and works in partnership with many high profile brands and retailers such as Superdry, Asics, New Balance, boohoo and Missguided.
Users can box up their unwanted clothes and ship them back to reGAIN from 20,000 drop-off points around the UK. Once received the items are either reused and reworn, recycled, upcycled, or used as combustibles for energy production.
“We are realists, not idealists. We know that we can’t stop people from buying clothes, but we can incentivise them to change their habits and divert hundreds of tonnes of clothing from UK landfill. Our long-term goal is a world in which clothes never become waste,” Ostrowski said at the launch of the app.
Marks & Spencer has been operating a “Schwopping” scheme since 2012 which allows people to drop off unwanted clothes in-store, while H&M and Zara also offer similar service. The John Lewis pilot is the first time a specific retailer has used technology and a financial incentive to encourage fashion recycling.
Image (top): Paul Grover/PA