Closed loop manufacturing has become an increasing focus of Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives and McDonald’s are leading the way. It’s no surprise that uniforms that are related to the London Olympics have been under scrutiny for their environmental impacts, and that high profile companies are keen to ensure their promotional activities are in line with the latest social and environmental guidelines.

Many organisations, from Marks & Spencer to the National Grid, are looking into producing closed-loop clothing, whereby some of the polyester in the original garment is broken down into a polymer that can then be respun into a yarn that is rewoven into new clothing.

A London based consultancy, Worn Again, is helping other corporations to repurpose their corporate clothing into new items. For example, the old Eurostar headrests were repurposed into bags and utility pouches for Eurostar train managers, Royal Mail winter jackets have also been recycled into bags. It’s claimed that 33.4 million uniforms are purchased each year, of which something less than 5% are recycled.

The key messages here are:

1. Look at corporate clothing through its entire lifetime and plan an end-of-life use that can be a good story for the corporation.
2. Set up clothing collection systems in the workplace to gather corporate clothing for re-cycling or closed-loop processing.
3. Re-use, repurpose and recycle any workplace clothing that can’t be built into a closed loop process, and ensure that embroidery or printing can contribute to the repurposing by have logos printed in areas that can then be re-used to make smaller, ‘ready-branded’ items.

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