Department Stores

John Lewis pilots buy-back service for unwanted clothing

John Lewis has announced it is to trial an industry-first scheme allowing customers to sell back unwanted clothing to help reduce the amount of landfill waste in the UK.  

Some 300,000 tonnes of clothing is sent to landfill each year in the UK, and John Lewis’ service will collect unwanted clothing purchased from its 50 shops and website collected from customers’ homes and pay immediately for each item regardless of its condition.

The department store chain said it developed the idea, which is currently being tested by over 100 John Lewis customers, with social enterprise Stuffstr. The app-based service links to data on what the customer has bought from John Lewis over the past five years to value items.

Customers then select the products they want to sell and are immediately shown the amount they can receive for them. Once a customer has a minimum of £50 worth of clothing to sell a courier will collect the products within three hours.

As soon as the products have been collected, the customer is emailed a John Lewis e-gift card for the value of the items they have sold. Items bought back are then either resold, mended so they can be resold, or recycled into new products.

Martyn White, sustainability manager for John Lewis, said: “We already take back used sofas, beds, and large electrical items such as washing machines and either donate them to charity, or reuse and recycle parts and want to offer a service for fashion products.

“It’s estimated that the average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes, but around 30% of that clothing has not been worn for at least a year, most commonly because it no longer fits.”

He added: “We hope that by making it as easy as we possibly can for customers to pass on clothing that they’re no longer wearing we can ensure that the maximum life is extracted from items bought from us. If the concept proves successful the next stage will be to offer an option for customers to donate the money to charity.”

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