Sainsbury’s & Oxfam Seeking to Increase Reuse & Recycling of Clothing

UK Discard 680m Items of Clothing this Spring – 235m Destined for Landfill

A whopping 680 million items of clothing will be thrown out in the UK this season alone, with some 235 million garments making their way to landfill, according to research conducted on behalf of Sainsbury’s.


A whopping 680 million items of clothing will be thrown out in the UK this season alone, with some 235 million garments making their way to landfill, according to research conducted on behalf of Sainsbury’s.

The supermarket said that 49 million people (75% of the population) expect to throw clothes in the bin this spring, with men more likely than women. Further, almost half of people (49%) believe that worn out or dirty items can’t be donated for recycling.

Along with the charity Oxfam, Saisbur’s called on people to recycle clothes, which are welcomed regardless of quality 

Now, as we welcome back sunshine and thoughts turn to warmer days, new research released by Sainsbury’s has revealed how the start of a new season fuels the clothing waste problem.

On average people will dispose of 19 items with seven of those going straight in the bin. According to the study the reasons people don’t donate or recycle clothing are because they were worn out or dirty, while 16% said they don’t have time to visit a charity shop, or simply could not be bothered to sort items. Just 6% of people didn’t realise clothing could be recycled. 

Interestingly, men are more likely to send clothes to landfill, with 82% saying they’ll bin items this spring, compared to 69% of women. Men will throw out more than the national average with 21 items being discarded, of which eight (38%) will end up in landfill. Women on the other hand average 17 items, of which six (35%) will go to landfill.

“If clothes go out with the rubbish, they’ll end up in landfill, so we’ve teamed up with Oxfam to help Britons become more charitable and environmentally savvy this spring,” explained Paul Crewe, Head of Sustainability - Energy, Engineering & Environment for Sainsbury's.

“No matter if they’re worn out or grubby, we’re calling on shoppers to donate their unwanted clothes at recycling points in our stores across the UK – perfectly placed to fit into the nation’s everyday routine.“

Sainsbury’s added that it is the biggest single supplier of second-hand clothing for Oxfam shops and, in the last year alone, the retailer has helped recycle over 16.3 million garments, bringing in an estimated £3.6 million for the charity. 

Good Cause
Oxfam promised that 100% of items donated via Sainsbury’s will be reused, resold or recycled, meaning that all items will be accepted regardless of style, condition or age. After being sorted at the charity’s ‘Wastesaver’ plant in Batley, Yorkshire, suitable items will be sold in Oxfam’s shops and online, or sent to support their social enterprise project in Senegal which creates jobs for disadvantaged women sorting and selling clothing in the local market. Items that aren’t fit for re-use can be turned into other textiles, used for the likes of insulation, sound proofing and padding.

Further findings also revealed that while half of respondents (47%) said their preferred way of getting rid of clothes was to take them to a charity shop, 15% said they'd normally throw items away in the rubbish. Again there’s a clear split between men and women, with a fifth (21%) of men favouring binning items, compared to half that (9%) amongst women.

 “While recycling is now common-place for things like paper and plastics, it’s often overlooked when it comes to our clothes,” continued Crew. “But we’re trying to fix that and now have 340 donation points at our stores, so our customers can spruce their wardrobe in the knowledge that their old items will be making a difference elsewhere.”

Fee Gilfeather, Head of Retail Brand for Oxfam, added: “Many people still think that their unwanted clothes won’t make a difference to charities, but at Oxfam we can reuse or recycle almost anything. The items donated through Sainsbury’s raise millions, helping us continue our vital work to end extreme poverty around the world.

“For example, right now Oxfam is responding to the food crisis in East Africa, where 16 million people are facing terrifying food shortages. Oxfam is providing safe clean water, sanitation and food.  This is life-saving work and your unloved clothes really can make a huge difference.”

Sainsbury’s has Oxfam donation banks at 340 stores nationwide, allowing customers to drop off items while doing their shop. In the last year alone have seen a 15% increase in the number of clothes being donated. Last year more than 5000 tonnes of clothing were donated through the partnership.

Oxfam and Sainsbury’s have been working in partnership since 2010. In addition to gathering clothing donations for the charity, Sainsbury’s is a member of Oxfam’s Emergency Response Network, helping respond to international crises.

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