Textile collecting - KappAhl

Textile collecting

Wear, love and give back! Hand in your old textiles in our stores, and together we can reduce waste and save the Earth's resources.

Several thousands of tonnes of clothes, shoes and other textiles are thrown away every year as household rubbish, and much of this ends up in landfill. Almost all of the textiles that are discarded could be used in a better way. 

We want to make it easy for you to make sustainable choices and give you the chance to hand in your old textiles conveniently at KappAhl and Newbie stores.

How to do it:

  • Take your sealed bag of textiles to a KappAhl or Newbie store. We welcome all types of clothes, household textiles, accessories and shoes (even if well worn), as long as they are dry and unsoiled.
  • Show your bag to the staff in the store and put it in the collecting container nearby.
  • As a thank you, you will receive a gift voucher to the value of SEK 50 per bag, which you can use when buying new clothes (for purchases over SEK 300). The gift vouchers are accepted in all of our physical stores.

For every kilo of clothes collected, we are able to donate 2 Euro cents to our training center for women in Bangladesh.

Our textile collection scheme is for you as a private individual; we are not able to enter into co-operation with companies or organisations.

What happens to the textiles?

The textiles collected are transported in as environmentally friendly a manner as possible to a textile sorting facility just outside Berlin in Germany. They are then sorted based on whether they can be reused, recycled or used as an energy source. We work with I:Collect for this.

There is great potential in old clothes. Over half of what is handed in can still be used, which is what is best for the environment.

What cannot be reused is recycled. The textiles are ground down and the fibres can be used to make new textiles or other materials such as cloths and insulation.

The small quantity that can neither be reused nor recycled – about 3 per cent – is incinerated for energy recovery.

A lot is happening in recycled fashion just now, and we are working actively to drive this development forwards. Collecting more textiles can help increase the pace of research for large-scale recycling of old textiles into new fibres.

Our goal is for it to be possible to turn the textiles collected into new KappAhl garments.

5 questions for KappAhl's Sustainability Manager

Fredrika Klarén, Sustainability Manager at KappAhl.

Fredrika Klarén, Sustainability Manager

1. Can anything actually be done with old, worn textiles?

"Of course – we can do a lot! Even a pair of holey socks is worth something and can get a longer lifespan.

The problem is that all too few textiles today are collected for reuse and recycling. Studies have shown that every year Nordic consumers throw 8 kilos* of textiles in the bin – the majority of which could actually have been reused or recycled.

As it stands, more than half of what is collected in our stores can be recycled in its current condition – through sales on the second-hand market, for example, or donations to people in need. A similar amount can be ground down to form new textile materials, such as insulation.

Only a small percentage of everything we receive has to go to energy recovery."

*The Nordic Council of Ministers 2014 (in Swedish)

2. Why do you feel it's important to collect textiles?

"The numbers speak for themselves. Every year, the world’s population consumes natural resources that it takes the world 1.5 years* to produce. This equation does not balance – it shows that we need to move to a sustainable consumption of resources.

At KappAhl we believe that the fashion industry has a shared responsibility to ensure that the textile materials we put on the market can have as long a life as possible and be reused and recycled in several cycles before they are completely worn out. This will lead to a considerably smaller impact on the environment.

We want to make it easy for our customers to do the right thing. Every sock we can save from household rubbish is one step in the right direction.

We work using several measures; for example, we co-operate with other colleagues in the industry to create secure national collection systems. We are buying in increasing quantities of recycled materials and looking at how, as early as the design stage, we can do things like make the garments separable for recycling.

Our in-store textile collection scheme, “Wear, Love and Give Back”, is another important measure. Through this, we are creating a greater awareness of this important issue among our customers.

We want to make it easy for our customers to be able to do the right thing. We have a responsibility to ensure that the textiles we receive gain a longer life. Every sock we can save from household rubbish is one step in the right direction!"

*World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

3. What happens to the textiles deposited with you?

"They are transported to our partner I:Collect’s nearest textile sorting facility just outside Berlin in Germany. There they are sorted both automatically and by hand using a genius system.

Every day, roughly 400 tonnes of textiles arrives at this facility, the majority of which comes from relief organisations that sell the textiles they have collected to I:Collect to finance their operations.

I:Collect puts the majority of its textiles on the global second-hand market, with a focus on maximising the value of each garment. The second-hand clothing market is really a global market, so clothes that are donated can end up anywhere from a second-hand market in Mozambique to a vintage store in Japan or a relief organisation such as UNHCR.

For every kilo we collect, 2 Euro cents are donated to our training centre for women in Bangladesh. 

They also produce their own insulation materials using recycled fabrics, and is involved in a number of research projects in this field.

I:Collect works socially as well. For every kilo they gather from our stores, we are able to donate 2 Euro cents to our training center for women in Bangladesh. The money donated so far has been used for, for example, new sewing machines. I:Collect also co-operates with several different relief organisations and often provides assistance with garments in disaster situations."

4. What's needed for the fashion industry to be able to close the loop and make new clothes using recycled textiles?

"Collection and innovation. Textiles need to start being collected on a large scale so that they can be dealt with in the right way. The vast majority still end up in household rubbish, despite a range of initiatives. That is why we need a comprehensive and secure collection system.

The vast majority of textiles still end up in household rubbish, despite a range of initiatives. That is why we need a comprehensive and secure collection system.

We also need to find solutions regarding how textiles can be recycled for use as textiles in fashion and home furnishings. It is still not possible to do this on a large scale, and the textiles that are recycled are normally 'downcycled', i.e. turned into lower-value products such as insulation, cloths, etc. They are not brought back into the fashion industry.

The research being conducted in the field feels really hopeful and needs the right support to be able to show large-scale results.

Another challenge is to make it possible to shift the textiles that are going to be recycled. There are masses of laws and regulations that limit this, which means, for example, that we are unable to link the textiles with global production in a good way."

5. What does “Wear, Love and Give Back” mean?

"It's our way of making KappAhl’s customers aware of textile collection. We want to encourage them to buy garments that they will love and use well for years to come.

And when the clothes are too worn or simply don’t feel right anymore, they can be put back into the circular flow of textiles that we want to develop and get another chance of a longer lifespan."

More sustainable fashion in your wardrobe

More sustainable fashion in your wardrobe

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