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The North Face Apparel Recycling to ‘Clothes the Loop’

The North Face has launched a pilot clothing take-back/recycling program called Clothes the Loop, aimed at keeping billions of pounds of apparel and footwear out of landfills.

The program works like this: customers can drop off used clothing, hats and footwear from any brand in any condition at bins in 10 participating The North Face retail stores. Collected items are sent to an I:Collect (I:Co) recycling center where they are sorted and either resold or recycled into raw materials such as insulation, carpet padding or toy stuffing.

Proceeds accrued through the program will be donated to The Conservation Alliance, which funds community-based campaigns to protect outdoor areas. Customers who donate used apparel earn one discount voucher per drop off per day that they can use towards the purchase of The North Face products.

The retailer says that, according to EPA estimates, more than 26 billion pounds of apparel, footwear and other textiles were thrown away in 2010, nearly 85 percent of which ended up in the landfill.

The North Face has also reduced its own landfilled waste production, which at the company’s headquarters dropped 7 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to its most recent sustainability report. Since 2008, the company has reduced the waste its headquarters sends to landfill by 35 percent and achieved an almost 17-fold increase in recycling by successfully changing employee practices and introducing composting for organic waste.

Also beginning this month, H&M customers can donate used clothing at all H&M stores in the chain’s 48 markets worldwide. I:Co then repurposes the collected clothes, and customers will receive a voucher for each bag of clothing they donate.

In April 2012, Marks & Spencer announced its Shwopping campaign, which encourages customers to recycle old clothing at M&S clothing stores. The retailer, which set a goal of recycling as many clothes as it sells — 350 million a year — gives all of the “shwopped” clothes to Oxfam.

The latest EL Insights report from EL PRO provides research on product take-back. The 34-page report covers: Product Types, Vendors, Benefits, Challenges, Policies and Programs, Standards, Certifications and Industry Commitments, Latest Developments, Adoption by Businesses, Projections and Q&As with Sprint and Dell.

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