When First Great Western re-branded to GWR, there seemed at first sight to be no simple way to dispose of the old branded corporate wear.  As with most workwear it was made of mixed fibres and had buttons and fastenings as well as woven, embroidered or printed branding.

GWR worked with us at Uniform Reuse to identify a number of routes to deal with the various types of clothing that made up the full range of their uniforms. Some of the challenges to overcome were the dispersal of the clothing across GWR's network, the types of textile the uniform was made from, the method of branding, and the condition of the clothing. As Amie Coppin, Head of Sustainability at GWR, said: "It wasn’t always possible to break materials down to the original fibre to be able to reuse them. In some cases the fabric was too worn, in others it simply couldn’t be separated."

Items were collected in bins at major stations, driver facilities and office buildings. The bundles of clothing were then passed to prison workshops, providing work to offenders who removed the 'tax tags', fastenings and other elements that could not be recycled. The debranded fabrics then went for textile recycling to create flocking for upholstery and reuse.

Although this route was the best available solution for this batch of workwear, GWR now sees that, for the future, it needs to consider different textiles, garment designs and methods of branding right from the start to avoid the same disposal challenges arising again.

These challenges are not unique to the rail sector. Each time any company rebrands its workwear, or its staff are issued with seasonal or promotional clothing, there is a chance that these challenges will present themselves.

Uniform Reuse is geared up to help you tackle these challenges, prevent them happening again, and join the inner circle of companies that have embraced the circular economy.