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April 19, 2021

Smartwool pledges 100% circularity by 2030

VF Corporation's Smartwool brand has announced a strategic goal of making all products circular by 2030 and outlined a new initiative which aims to give products a "second cut" at life and create a more circular supply chain that extends the life of raw materials, presents a new sourcing stream, and reduces environmental impact. 

By Beth Wright

VF Corporation’s Smartwool brand has announced a strategic goal of making all products circular by 2030 and outlined a new initiative which aims to give products a “second cut” at life and create a more circular supply chain that extends the life of raw materials, presents a new sourcing stream, and reduces environmental impact. 

Based in Denver, Colorado, Smartwool is a sock and apparel brand whose products are designed to get the most out of the inherent benefits of Merino wool. 

As part of its strategic goal of making all products circular by 2030, it has announced the Smartwool Second Cut Project which aims to move the needle towards a more circular economy, starting with socks. 

Although awareness around the importance of apparel circularity is growing with consumers, socks are one of the most thrown-away pieces of apparel. This may in part be due to a lack of understanding, Smartwool says, adding it recently conducted a survey which uncovered that while over 80% of respondents recycle their used clothing, they do not engage the same way when it comes to socks as 46% are unaware of how to recycle them, resulting in 91% throwing away more than one pair of socks per year.

“Through our research, we realised that consumers want to be more sustainable and recycle their socks, but don’t currently have the resources to be a part of the solution,” says Alicia Chin, senior manager sustainability and social impact at Smartwool. “We are deeply invested in providing consumers with simple recycling solutions that make a difference towards a happier, healthier planet. While our goal is to reach total circularity across our product portfolio, there is obviously an urgent need for a recycling solution in the sock category, which is where we’re focusing our initial efforts.”

Smartwool is partnering with Material Return, a platform for custom circularity, on the Second Cut Project sock take-back event. Timed to coincide with Earth Day, the event will see Smartwool collect used socks from any brand at specialty retailers nationwide and online from 21 April. These initial donations will be re-purposed into a filling for dog beds, which will be available for purchase at Smartwool.com during the 2021 holiday season.

Consumers can drop off their unwanted (but clean) socks in marked bins at participating retailers through 2 May, or when making any purchase at Smartwool.com, can opt to receive a pre-paid postage bag to send in any socks they wish to recycle.

Earlier this year, Smartwool committed to sourcing its New Zealand Merino wool through the new ZQRX platform which was launched by New Zealand Merino Company (NZM).

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