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Industry Talk

Too good to waste trial at M&S

Trial links with project to develop a new framework for a UK-based automated sorting and pre-processing facility.

15th May 2024

Innovation in Textiles
 |  London

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Marks & Spencer, the UK’s largest clothing retailer is running a new campaign to encourage public donations of unwearable clothing, alongside wearable clothing, through the trial of a free postal donation service in partnership with Oxfam.

It is estimated that UK homes contain 1.6 billion items of unworn clothing which have the potential to be used, re-used or recycled, but new research conducted on behalf of M&S has found that many people don’t know what to do with clothes that cannot be re-worn, with three in 10 consumers admitting to disposing of them in their household waste bin.

To help tackle the problem, consumers will now be able to recycle their preloved clothing by ordering a pre-paid postal donation bag from the Oxfam website. The bag allows for preloved clothing to be separated into two groups – those that are good quality and wearable and those that are unwearable but equally too good to waste – and return them for free via a local courier. They will then go directly to Oxfam to be resold, reused, or recycled.

The trial forms part of the ACT Project which is being led by the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT).

The UKFT is working to develop a new framework towards a UK-based automated sorting and pre-processing facility (ATSP) that will recycle clothing unsuitable for re-sale, to make new clothing in a completely circular system.

“Through this trial, we’re aiming to encourage people to separate their items so that in future, worn-out clothing can make its way to an automated sorting facility and then be recycled into new textiles and garments here in the UK,” said UKFT CEO Adam Mansell.

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