ACT Take Back

Be part of fashion’s future

Every year, in the UK, 1.3 billion textile items (336,000 tonnes) end up in our household bins and are then incinerated or landfilled, contributing to global warming as they release carbon dioxide when they’re burnt or decompose. 

If we could collect these worn-out clothes and send them to a facility that can automatically sort them, identify the fabric (cotton, polyester, wool etc.) and prepare them for recycling into new material, we could recycle them and make new clothes out of our old clothes – possibly right here in the UK. 

To make automated sorting facilities and textile-to-textile recycling a reality in the short-term future, we need to increase the ways that we can donate non-reusable textiles for recycling.

To ensure the materials that go into making our clothes remain in continual circulation, we have launched the ‘ACT Take Back’ project, with the creation of collection trials to empower consumers to sort out and donate clothing and homeware textiles (such as towels, sheets, curtains etc.) that are no longer usable. The sorted worn-out textiles, in the future, could be sent to an automated sorting facility where they will be sorted and prepared for textile-to-textile recycling.

ACT Take Back sorting clothes at home 2b

Take Part

THE COLLECTION TRIALS

We’re running trials to find out the best ways to get worn-out clothes out of homes and into the sorting and recycling facility. We’ll discover…

• The easiest ways for people to send their clothes to the sorting facility – clothes collection banks, postal services or something else

• The best words to use to help people decide what is reusable and what is non reusable

• If incentives can encourage more people to take part

• If targeted communications campaigns will help people understand what we’re asking and then respond positively

Postal Collection Trial

with Oxfam and Marks & Spencer

From April 2024

Marks & Spencer, in partnership with Oxfam, is running a new trial which asks customers to give their unwearable clothes a second chance at life by donating them alongside their preloved wearable clothing. The new online trial will allow M&S customers to order a free postal donation bag, made from 100% recycled plastic, straight to their doorstep. Customers can then place their preloved second-hand clothing inside the bag – separating between those that are wearable from unwearable – but equally too good to waste. This means clothing which can’t be worn anymore because it is torn, stained, stretched or broken can have a second chance of life and be used for other means. Both Oxfam and M&S are working to support the ACT ‘Textile Waste Project’, which is led by the UK Fashion and Textile Association.

This is a limited trial, so order your postal bag soon. You can order a free online postal donation bag, crafted from 100% recycled plastic, and have it delivered directly to your doorstep by clicking the link below: 

M&S and Oxfam Logo

Retail Carpark Collection Trial

with Tesco and The Salvation Army (Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd.) 

From March to October 2024

For this trial Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd (a charity business that raises funds to support the work The Salvation Army does) has re-designed clothing and textile collection banks that are located in Tesco’s car parks. In 18 Tesco supermarket car parks across the East of England they will place new recycling banks for the trial. Their existing banks will ask for reusable clothing and textiles and the new banks will ask for donations of worn-out clothing and textiles. The Salvation Army will run an awareness campaign via regional media, including social media, so more people are aware of the banks and the trial behind them. People will sort their unwanted clothing and textiles and place them in the correct bank in the Tesco car park. The Salvation Army will collect the items and weigh and sort them to see how people pre-sorted their clothes. The Salvation Army will then repurpose the reusable clothes and shoes for charity and sort the worn-out clothes and home textiles for recycling at their sorting facility.

The trial has been underway since March 2024. 

Tesco & Salvation Army Logo

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

For each trial the partners will study the information collected and look at what worked and what didn’t and consider how they would change and scale up the trials for the future.

The information and data from the trials will be sent to WRAP (the Waste and Resouces Action Programme) monthly for analysis. This, along with the feedback from the brands and retailers who ran the trials, will be put together into a report which will be published so that the entire fashion industry can learn from the trials that took place. The data from these trials will help to shape future schemes and allow us to collect your worn-out clothes in the easiest and most efficient way.

Long Term Vision

As more and more textile-to-textile recycling processes become available in the UK, our goal is to ensure all worn-out clothing and textiles are captured and put back into use to create new clothing. Breaking down worn-out textiles will help to create valuable resources that can be used by the fashion and textiles industry here in the UK, and around the world.

This ambition will bring economic and environmental benefits in many ways:

  • We can prevent the growing mountains of textiles going to landfill (and incineration) while simultaneously producing materials for making new textiles. (Turning waste into resource!)
  • This will help in replacing the use of virgin resources, like oil (to make polyester) and cotton, both of which take up vast amounts of energy, water and land.
  • We can turn our worn-out clothing into new materials right here in the UK, rather than shipping them abroad, thereby reducing the carbon footprint from logistics.
  • We also reduce the impact on other countries which may not have the recycling infrastructure to process the clothes. So our clothes won’t end up as waste again, just somewhere else.
  • By extending the lifetime of clothes as recycled fibres, we reduce the overall carbon dioxide emissions of the fashion industry.

Source: Circle-8 Textile Ecosystems

Long Term Vision

As more and more textile-to-textile recycling processes become available in the UK, our goal is to ensure all worn-out clothing and textiles are captured and put back into use to create new clothing. Breaking down worn-out textiles will help to create valuable resources that can be used by the fashion and textiles industry here in the UK, and around the world.

This ambition will bring economic and environmental benefits in many ways:

  • We can prevent the growing mountains of textiles going to landfill (and incineration) while simultaneously producing materials for making new textiles. (Turning waste into resource!)
  • This will help in replacing the use of virgin resources, like oil (to make polyester) and cotton, both of which take up vast amounts of energy, water and land.
  • We can turn our worn-out clothing into new materials right here in the UK, rather than shipping them abroad, thereby reducing the carbon footprint from logistics.
  • We also reduce the impact on other countries which may not have the recycling infrastructure to process the clothes. So our clothes won’t end up as waste again, just somewhere else.
  • By extending the lifetime of clothes as recycled fibres, we reduce the overall carbon dioxide emissions of the fashion industry.

Find Out More

The ‘ACT Take Back’ initiative is part of the Automatic sorting for Circularity in Textiles (ACT UK) project, which is supported and funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s national innovation agency.

Led by the UK Fashion and Textiles Association (UKFT), ACT UK is a consortium of fashion, textiles and recycling experts working to develop the framework towards the first UK-based Automated-sorting Textiles and Pre-processing (ATSP) facility that will process clothing unsuitable for re-sale and redirect it to existing and new recycling processes.

The collection trials are led by Reskinned with support from UKFT, Circle-8 Textile Ecosystems and the WRAP. These trials will be delivered by a team of brands, industry associations, collectors and sorters who are looking for ways to redirect clothing and textiles that are unsuitable for re-sale (Non-Reusable Textiles or NRT) from household waste to the ATSP. 

If you want to learn more about ACT and how you can contribute, check here ACT Dissemination website

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