Textile Recycling : Smartwool wants to collect and recycle 400K socks

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While most consumers donate their old clothes, a recent Smartwool survey1 showed that many do not participate in recycling programs, either because they’re unaware of how to recycle or the resources are not available (46%), or because the item is completely worn out and they perceive it to have no value (67%).

Recycling has many benefits, including the reduction of environmental impact from collecting virgin raw materials, saving on energy, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills, and conserving natural resources such as water. This April Smartwool wants to educate and encourage people to adopt better recycling habits, by sending in their old socks to participate in the Second Cut Project.

Smartwool first announced the Second Cut Project in April 2021 to help address the apparel industry’s textile waste problem, with only 12% of clothing materials recycled globally, and socks being one of the most thrown-away pieces of apparel. Last year’s sock take-back collection kept over 12,000 pounds of material out of landfills, and together with North Carolina-based Material Return, Smartwool turned that waste into the Second Cut K9 Camp Cushion.

Smartwool is continuing its partnership with Material Return—a custom circularity platform within The Industrial Commons group delivering local and sustainable textile manufacturing and waste solutions—to give old socks a second chance at life. The goal to collect 400,000 socks this year will help Smartwool create recycled yarn to use in future circular products.

Smartwool will kick off its take-back collection at participating retail stores nationwide from April 11–24. Participants can also send in any brand of old socks for recycling by selecting a free mail-in bag on Smartwool.com.

To learn more about Smartwool’s 10-year roadmap towards becoming climate positive through regenerative materials and circularity visit Smartwool’s What Matters Hub.