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January 4, 2022updated 09 Feb 2022 11:46am

M&S introduces rewards for recycled clothes ‘Shwopping’ scheme

Apparel retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) is giving shoppers rewards for taking part in its recycled clothes 'Shwopping' scheme for the first time as part of its aim to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

By Laura Husband

A recent M&S survey found two-thirds of its customers (65%) will have a new year wardrobe clear-out, so the retailer is encouraging shoppers to take part in its recycled clothes scheme by offering rewards for donating unwanted clothing via its Sparks loyalty scheme.

The M&S customer survey also found that one in five of those who plan to do a clothes clear out might put garments in the bin. The retailer hopes that encouraging customers to donate good quality, clean clothes that Oxfam can sell to raise money for its work fighting poverty around the world will also prevent items from going into landfill. Items that customers can give to Oxfam via the Shwop boxes in stores include: shoes, handbags, jewellery, belts, hats, scarves, and bras – and these can be from any retailer (not just M&S).

The scheme which encourages donations of unwanted clothes in its stores to be either resold, reused or recycled is part of M&S’s Plan A sustainability programme, which is focused on becoming a net zero scope 3 business by 2040.

M&S launched Shwopping in 2008 and to date over 35 million items have been donated raising an estimated GBP23m for Oxfam’s vital work across the world. However, this New Year is the first time M&S customers are being rewarded for donating items from their post-Christmas clear-out.

To receive a reward, customers need to ensure they’re signed up to M&S’s loyalty scheme, Sparks, and scan the QR code on the box when they drop off their clothes at any of M&S’s clothing stores.  The treat will then appear in their Sparks hub.

All clothing items that customers donate are sent to Oxfam where they are sorted for recycling. Oxfam’s recycling plant, Wastesaver and partner CTR, stop textiles being sent to landfill. Damaged or low-grade items can be sold to recycling traders so they can, for instance, be turned into car soundproofing or mattress stuffing.

The scheme aims to ensure that nothing goes to waste as M&S and Oxfam explain that approximately 336,000 tonnes of clothing (worth around £140m) is sent to landfill each year.

Carmel McQuaid, M&S head of sustainable business said: “We know our customers are busy and we’re passionate about helping them live lower carbon lives by offering simple solutions that make it easy. Reselling, reusing, and recycling clothing is a simple way that we can all make a difference and our long-standing shwopping scheme with Oxfam is a brilliant programme that rewards customers for doing their bit.”

Lorna Fallon, retail director for Oxfam added: “If you’re thinking about having a clear-out after Christmas, drop clothes off in the Shwop bins in M&S. Not only is it better for the environment, but Oxfam can sell good quality, clean donations to raise vital funds for our work around the world.

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