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John Lewis to buy back unwanted clothes from customers to cut waste

The scheme aims to reduce the 300,000 tonnes of fashion waste that go to landfill every year

Sarah Young
Wednesday 24 October 2018 10:56 BST
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The retailer said the current 'promotional' market is making trading difficult
The retailer said the current 'promotional' market is making trading difficult (Getty)

John Lewis is to pay customers for their unwanted clothing regardless of the garment’s condition, to prevent them from going to landfill.

The pilot scheme is currently being tested by more than 100 customers and, if successful, is likely to be rolled out across the UK.

“We already take back used sofas, beds and large electrical items such as washing machines and either donate them to charity or reuse and recycle parts and want to offer a service for fashion products,” Martyn White, the retailer’s sustainability manager, said in a statement.

“It's estimated that the average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes, but around 30 per cent of that clothing has not been worn for at least a year.”

So, how does the scheme work?

Developed with social enterprise Stuffstr, the scheme aims to reduce the 300,000 tonnes of fashion waste going to landfill each year using an app.

Customers can arrange for any unwanted clothing that they have purchased from John Lewis to be collected from their home.

They simply choose which items they want to sell, are shown the amount they will receive for them and, once a customer has at least £50 worth of clothing to sell, a courier will collect the products.

The trial has so far seen the retailer pay £4 for a pair of broken cashmere gloves bought in 2015, £8 for a pencil skirt bought in 2014, and £11 for a top bought in 2016, Retail Gazette reports.

The customer is then emailed a John Lewis e-gift card for the value of the items sold.

The department store already upcycles many of its products and took back more than 27,000 electrical items and about 2,000 used sofas, and recycled materials from 55,000 mattresses last year alone.

John Atcheson, the chief executive of Stuffstr, said: “Every item has value, even old socks, and we want to make it as simple as possible for customers to benefit from their unwanted clothes.”

The initiative is the first of its kind to offer a financial incentive to customers however other high street names, including Marks & Spencer and H&M have also introduced in-store recycling bins to help reduce waste in recent years.

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