The barriers to corporate clothing recovery are numerous, with problems of security due to logos, fabric composition, garment deconstruction and collection infrastructure (see ‘key barriers’ for greater detail). This results in around just 5% of corporatewear being reused or recycled in some way each year. Even the clothing that is captured each year, is not always recovered in the most high value way, and may be shredded for use in lower value products (‘downcycled’).
However, there are companies that are on the right track. Many faced difficulties in accomplishing their success, and most critical is the co-operation of other organisations throughout the supply chain. The best systems in place have had end-of-life (EoL ) management considered from the onset, with designers involved in increasing the EoL potential.
Highlighted here are some of the companies that are seen to be taking the right approach to enable recovery, with representation from all areas of the supply chain: fabric and garment manufacturers, corporatewear purchasers (corporations who supply uniforms/workwear to their staff) and organisations who accept EoL garments to either reuse or recycle. Whilst EoL is the focus, other sustainable practices are also highlighted, as it is important to realise that EoL is not a stand-alone issue, and corporate clothing can have environmental and social impacts during the whole life of the item, from production through to disposal (see ‘Key issues’) .
Klopman International is the first polyester/cotton manufacturer to be awarded the EU Ecolabel, and now provides corporate clothing manufacturers with sustainably sourced fabrics, including Fairtrade cotton. Download a pdf, 1.6MB
As a corporate clothing manufacturer, Cotton Roots sources all its material from sustainable origins. All ‘seconds’ are immediately sent for reuse, often in Asia and Africa, and any left over thread and fabric is sent for use in schools, or donated for reuse elsewhere. Download a pdf, 1.7MB
Carrington Career and Workwear (CCW)
Whilst EoL still remains an issue, Carrington is focussed on overcoming this, and has implemented strategies to extend the life of garments until the issue can be resolved. Sustainable manufacturing and management are paramount, with accreditation to ISO 14001 and 9000. Download a pdf, 1MB
Coventry Building Society
Not satisfied with garments going to recovery for shredding and incineration, Coventry actively seeks the optimum EoL system for its garments, and now clothing is sent overseas for direct reuse, with only unwearable garments being shredded for recycling. Download a pdf, 950kB
Nationwide Building Society
Nationwide attempts to source as much of its corporate clothing as possible from sustainable materials. EoL garments are utilised in the optimum way, with local reuse if possible, overseas if not, and only the very minimum of fabric going to recycling where no other option is available. No material is sent directly to landfill. Download a pdf, 1MB
Royal Mail Group (RMG)
Employing over 1% of the UK workforce, the Royal Mail Group generates significant volumes of corporate clothing, yet still sends less than 1% to landfill. This is largely accomplished by ensuring traceability at end-of-life, and through the use of a distinctive bar code incorporated into garments, allowing ease of sorting. Download a pdf, 1.1MB
Dress for Success
Dress for Success is a not-for-profit organisation, promoting the economic independence of disadvantaged women. It accepts high quality corporatewear for women to use as interview outfits, in order for them to gain employment. Download a pdf, 650kB
Only around 1% of the textiles LMB receives ends up in landfill. By employing specialised ‘sorters’, garments are separated into three grades, with clothing first sent for reuse as is; then reuse for lower value outputs; and finally recycling of fabric alone as a final option. Download a pdf, 1.2MB
Wilcox are one of the largest textile reclamation companies in the UK and collect clothing from a huge range of sources, including charities, supermarkets, household waste recycling centres and local authorities. Corporate clothing is reused where possible, but as a last option, all fabric is utilized in a recycling process for other end uses.
Download a pdf, 1.3MB
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