Oxfam unveils clothing recycling campaign

15 January 2008

A huge drive to encourage consumers to recycle their clothes has been launched today by Marks & Spencer and Oxfam.

Oxfam has joined forces with M&S to encourage shoppers to recycle clothesEntitled the M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange, the initiative will see all customers who donate Marks and Spencer clothes to Oxfam, receive a voucher of £5.

This must be used within one month with their next purchase of £35 or more on M&S clothing, homeware or beauty products.

The vouchers will be available from Oxfam's 790 stores across the UK and Ireland for a six month period from January 28, before it is reviewed.

Designed to raise money for Oxfam's work to tackle poverty by providing more second hand clothes, the Exchange also hopes to reduce the one million tonnes of clothing sent to landfill in the UK each year.

Barbara Stocking, director of Oxfam, said: "This partnership is an enormous opportunity and Oxfam is very excited to be working with M&S to make a real difference to global poverty.

"Recycling and reusing clothes- and anything else we can sell - has always been central to Oxfam's fundraising, as well as being good for the environment. Through our unique textile recycling facility and the resourcefulness and skills of our specialist staff, Oxfam is able to make the most from all the clothes we receive."

Sir Stuart Rose, M&S chief executive, said: "We are pleased that we have teamed up with Oxfam, the UK's biggest charity shop, to help customers to raise money for developing countries by recycling their clothes they no longer need. It's a triple win - it's good for customers, good for people in developing countries and good for the environment."

Textile facility

At present, Oxfam is one of the only major charities to operate its own textile sorting facility, Wastesaver in Huddersfield, which handles 12,000 tonnes of clothing a year.

The facility sorts clothing and resells it through a number of different routes, including re-distribution to Oxfam shops, selling online, selling to designers to reuse the fabric and to textile wholesalers in the UK and overseas.

Low grade items not sold as clothing are sold in bulk to recycling traders to make products including mattress filler, carpet underlay, upholstery and care sound insulation.

Oxfam is also exploring the opportunity of taking materials which cannot be sold or recycled in traditional ways, such as embellished denim, and recycling it into items such as cardboard boxes or back into denim clothing.