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Primark launches new UK in-store recycling scheme

30 Jul '20
6 min read
Pic: Primark
Pic: Primark

Primark has rolled out nation-wide recycling programme inviting customers to donate their pre-loved clothes, textiles, footwear and bags from any brand to be ‘re-loved’ via its In-Store Recycling Scheme. Collection boxes will be available in its 190 stores across UK and all donated items will be reused, recycled or repurposed with nothing going to landfill.

Profits from the scheme will go to UNICEF, Primark’s global charity partner, in support of its education programmes for vulnerable children around the world.

This new recycling scheme from Primark launches as recent research from WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) estimates more than a third of the population have had a clear out of unwanted textiles and clothing while at home on lockdown. WRAP is also urging people to protect charity shops from an influx of donations, by contacting them before turning up with donations, and using other options including in-store collections like Primark’s scheme being announced.

Primark has partnered with Yellow Octopus to implement its recycling scheme. Yellow Octopus is a recycling specialist which has a ‘no landfill’ policy across the 21 countries it operates in, diverting around one million garments from landfill every month. The company aims for as many donations as possible to be worn again, with the remainder being repurposed into new products such as insulation, toy stuffing and mattress fillers.

Primark’s in-store recycling scheme is the latest step in the Primark Cares initiative, Primark’s commitment to a more sustainable future. Work as part of the programme includes the expansion of its Sustainable Cotton Programme, to its knowledge, the largest of its kind managed by any fashion retailer in the world. It also includes investment in the use of sustainable fibres across all product ranges. Primark’s famous brown paper bags have been on high streets since 2002 and all unsold clothing and samples have been donated to charity since 2010.

“We know people don’t always find it easy to recycle their clothes, textiles and shoes. And we know people have had big clear outs during lockdown. Now is the perfect time to be launching our in-store recycling programme, making it convenient for customers to give a second life to items from their wardrobe that they no longer need. This will reduce waste going to landfill and help our customers to help the environment. With the profits going to UNICEF’s important childhood education programmes we are also supporting our global charity partner in their work,” said Katharine Stewart, ethical trade and environmental sustainability director at Primark.

“Our research shows most people prefer to donate or recycle their unwanted clothes, and often opt for charity shops as their favoured route. With shops just beginning to reopen, that can risk overwhelming charities with an influx of donations. Passing on clothes through retail stores is an effective and often underused way to donate clothes. Primark is a signatory of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, and this new in-store recycling scheme for clothes gives people even more options, and will help make recycling clothes easier with drop off boxes in stores on high streets and retail hubs across the UK,” said Peter Maddox, director, WRAP:

“Now more than ever our collaboration with the private sector is critical. Coronavirus is affecting children’s lives in almost every country and UNICEF is helping to tackle the impact of this new virus around the world. We are here for children always and we won’t stop now. We are delighted that Primark has chosen to donate profits from their recycling scheme to us and help to keep children, particularly the most marginalised, learning,” said Sue Adams, director of partnerships at UNICEF UK.

Primark’s recycling partner in the UK, Yellow Octopus, a signatory of WRAP’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), underwent a rigorous selection process to ensure it met the standards in Primark’s Code of Conduct. The Primark Code of Conduct is based on standards set by the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) and covers workers’ rights, health and safety and wages.

Last year (2019), Primark announced an expansion of its Sustainable Cotton Programme, committing to train 160,000 cotton farmers in India, Pakistan and China in more sustainable farming methods by 2022. The programme has been developed in partnership with agriculture experts CottonConnect and local implementing partners, to train smallholder farmers to help them reduce their use of water, chemical pesticides and fertilisers, while helping to improve their livelihoods at the same time. Cotton from the programme is already being traced directly from cotton farm to store, and is used in many of Primark’s most popular products, such as jeans, pyjamas and bedding, at no extra cost to the customer.

For over 15 years Yellow Octopus has provided commercial sustainable solutions such as Recycling Services, Take Backs and Stock Exits for leading fashion brands and retailers. Yellow Octopus’ infrastructure means it’s capable of handling large volumes of post-consumer waste for major retailers across Europe. Yellow Octopus firmly believes the first step to making fashion circular is responsibly recycling unwanted products and making sure items don’t end up in landfill. It is proud to support retail partners by providing services which help them and their customers make this important step towards a more sustainable future.

In July 2018 Primark announced a three-year partnership to contribute to UNICEF’s work in both education and emergency response. Primark has committed $4.5 million to fund an education programme to enable vulnerable children to attend and stay in school in Cambodia. In addition, Primark has committed $1.5 million towards UNICEF’s worldwide emergency response operations.

Over the past two years, this partnership has supported almost 9,000 children with disabilities or from ethnic minority groups to go to school, through multilingual, inclusive and special education programmes.

More than 8,500 children have also been able to stay in school through improved WASH and hygiene facilities and scholarships.

41,007 students in 130 schools across 3 provinces now benefit from the impact of positive discipline training and ending corporal punishment in classrooms.

Through Primark’s emergency response operation fund, Primark has also supported UNICEF to respond to crises in Indonesia, following the earthquake in 2018 and Mozambique following the cyclone in 2019.This year our emergency response support will help fund UNICEF’s response to Covid-19.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (PC)

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