M&S launches bra recycling campaign
Recycling of lingerie is now being encouraged by Marks and Spencer (M&S) under its new "love your boobs" campaign.
The scheme calls on customers to recycle bras by placing old ones into dedicated M&S ‘Shwopping’ recycling boxes when being fitted for a new bra.
The recycled bras will either be sold in Oxfam stores or they’ll be processed at Oxfam’s Wastesaver recycling facility in Batley, before being sent to the charity’s social enterprise project in Senegal, Frip Ethique. At Frip Ethique, bras are sold on to over 500 local traders who sell them in their local communities and meet the needs of the local population.
The move could deliver a significant upsurge in the amount of UK underwear being recycled as M&S currently has a 36.5% market share of the entire bra market and fits more than half of all women in the UK.
Head of Bra Fit at M&S Julia Mercer said: “Our summer campaign aims to show that bra fits at M&S are quick and easy, but we also hope it encourages women to use our Shwop boxes to recycle bras they no longer need and help make a difference to other women’s lives.”
M&S has re-trained almost 5,000 bra-fitters around communicating the recycling message. The retailer said that, with 88% of women purchasing a bra when fitted and 50,000 women getting fitted each week, there are “potentially thousands of bra’s that customers may want to recycle”.
The news follows various sustainability clothing initiatives from the retail giant as part of its Plan A strategy. Its update to 2025 includes a £25m charity commitment with all key raw materials coming from sustainable sources, including cotton, which has a 2019 deadline.
A quarter of all M&S clothing and home products will be made using 25% recycled material and M&S will collaborate with Oxfam in a three-year partnership to examine sourcing practices and human rights impacts. M&S will deliver an action programme based on these findings annually from 2018.
Commenting on M&S’s new bra recycling initiative, Oxfam’s Fee Gilfeather said: “We all have a few bras in the drawer that we never actually wear, in fact the average woman in the UK owns eight or nine, so bringing a few of them to M&S stores to recycle can make a massive difference. Not only are you giving the bra a second life, and saving it from landfill, but you’re also raising money for Oxfam’s fight against poverty around the world.”
M&S’s Shwopping scheme began in 2012 and allows customers to bring back clothes regardless of state. More than 27 million items of clothing have been ‘shwopped’ since 2008. Specific M&S products involved in Shwopping have included suits made with wool that M&S customers have donated through the recycling scheme. The wool is woven into the suit fabric at Nova Fides – a family-run mill based in Prato, Italy – where it is then fashioned into the ‘Shwop’ suit. Additionally, a men’s jeans range has been created which produces five times less water than conventional methods – alongside a reduced energy and chemical footprint.
Other CSR achievements from M&S include: sourcing 100% RSPO certified palm oil and converting 49% of cotton, 99% of wood and 27% of leather to more sustainable sources.