Uniqlo began a fleece-only recycling program in Japan in September 2001 as part of its corporate social responsibility activities. In 2006, the project was expanded to include all clothing and titled the All-Product Recycling Initiative.
Initially the company intended to recycle clothing for industrial use. However, most of the items received were still wearable, so focus was shifted from recycling to reusing.
As in Japan, clothing collected at Uniqlo’s U.S. stores will be donated to refugee camps through the cooperation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The U.S. initiative kicked off yesterday at the clothing brand’s Soho store in New York City. Customers can donate their used items in official Uniqlo All-Product Recycling boxes.
After the Soho launch, the initiative will spread to other U.S. stores. Uniqlo aims to introduce the project in every country where it operates.
As of July 2011 the brand says it has collected more than 11.5 million articles of clothing.