Take-back programs are the most efficient form of recycling. Returning apparel to its maker raises its chances of re-use, or re-purpose. So, it’s good to see two more retailers getting into circularity: H&M and North Face.
North Face is installing Clothes the Loop bins in 10 stores in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. And they’re prepared to accept not only North Face clothing. The material is going to I:CO recycling, where it will be resold or recycled into insulation, carpet padding, and stuffing for toys. H&M is putting in "Long live fashion!" boxes at stores in 48 markets. In return for returning, customers get 15% off their next purchase. They can leave two bags a day.
North Face points out:
In 2010, the U.S. EPA estimated that over 26 billion pounds of apparel, footwear, and other textiles were thrown away. Nearly 85 percent of which ended up in the landfill. That’s about 70 pounds per U.S. resident! Much of that can be reused or recycled and kept in a closed production cycle. By doing so, you help protect and preserve valuable material resources and help build a healthier planet.
A recent report called apparel the new frontier in the circular economy. With the chance to reduce input costs, and form a "circular" relationship with customers, the idea seems worth exploring for retailers.