One of the UK’s largest retail property owners will trial a textile recycling scheme, which it hopes would provide a potential alternative to a ‘recycling tax’ on new garments.
Landsec – which owns and manages around 26 million square feet of offices and shops in the UK– says its ‘spring clean, think green’ scheme will give people the opportunity to recycle old clothes without impacting retailers.
It will be launching a month-long trial on Monday (March 4) at Westgate, Oxford, where customers will be able to donate items to an interactive recycling point, specifically for clothes, within the centre.
If successful, the scheme will be replicated across Landsec’s 14 other shopping destinations, which include Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth and Southside Shopping centre in Wandsworth, London.
The success of the scheme will be measured, according to Landsec, by the number of people donating items and the total weight of the clothes.
Commenting on the scheme, Tom Byrne, sustainability manager at Landsec, said: “Clothing banks have existed for a number of years, but what we feel has been missing is a landlord-led initiative which can really drive up recycling rates in key retail destinations; our kiosk will bring the experience of recycling to life for customers and we’re hopeful that a less passive waste strategy will translate into greater enthusiasm for recycling textiles.”
The scheme will be operated by I:Collect, which describes itself as an international solutions provider for collection, reuse and recycling of used clothing. I:Collect has similar schemes across the world, including the US, South America and Australia.
The operators say the material collected will be taken to one of its partner facilities, and once sorted its end markets include projects to discover and advance new recycling methods, as well as re-use.
The move comes soon after the Environmental Audit Committee recommended that the government introduce a 1P per garment charge to retailers to help tackle the problems caused by unsustainable ‘fast fashion’ and clothing waste (see letsrecycle.com story).
Commenting on the new scheme, Ailish Christian-West, head of property, retail portfolio, at Landsec, said that the climate on the high-street means a tax will be mistimed.
“Michael Gove is right to be concerned about the impact fast fashion has on the environment, but now is not the time to introduce a new levy in bricks and mortar retail.
“Both retailers and retail landlords undoubtedly have a role to play in reducing the amount of textiles which end up incinerated or sent to landfill. At Landsec, we believe that through innovation and collaboration, we can make a significant and positive impact without placing an additional financial strain on the retail industry. We will be measuring the impact we have and look forward to sharing our results with the minister.”