The pilot aims to help reduce the 300,000 tonnes of clothing which gets sent to landfill each year in the UK

The pilot aims to help reduce the 300,000 tonnes of clothing which gets sent to landfill each year in the UK

UK department store group John Lewis is piloting a new service in which customers can have any unwanted clothing bought from its 50 shops and website, collected from their home, and be paid immediately for each item regardless of its condition.

The pilot, which the company describes as an "industry first", aims to help reduce the 300,000 tonnes of clothing that gets sent to landfill each year in the UK.

Developed in partnership with social enterprise Stuffstr, the scheme is currently being tested by over 100 John Lewis customers.

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 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 GBP50 (US$66) 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 at John Lewis says it's estimated that the average UK household owns around GBP4,000 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.

"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. All customers need to do to earn money from their unwanted clothing is tap on the clothing they want to sell, hand it to a courier and it will be given to someone else to love or made into something new," he says.

If the concept proves successful, the next stage will be to offer an option for customers to donate the money to charity.

"Every item has value, even old socks, and we want to make it as simple as possible for John Lewis customers to benefit from their unwanted clothes," adds John Atcheson, CEO of Stuffstr. "This service gives customers an incentive to buy high quality, longer-lasting products, and buying such products is a win for both customers and the environment."