Nearly 12 million tons of textile waste end up in landfills in the US each year, 95% of which could have been reused or recycled. The North Face is expanding its Clothes the Loop program in an effort to reduce this statistic. Beginning April 20, 2015, the Clothes the Loop program will be available at all The North Face retail and outlet stores in the US. Recycle any unwanted or worn out apparel or footwear at your nearest The North Face store. By doing so, you will help to preserve valuable resources and help protect our outdoor playgrounds.
James Rogers, The North Face Sustainability Manager, explains the signficance and the impact of the Clothes The Loop program.
What is The North Face Clothes the Loop program?
James Rogers: Clothes the Loop is an innovative recycling program that rewards our customers for keeping apparel and footwear out of the landfill. Now available in all our retail and outlet stores in the US, we accept apparel and footwear from any brand and in any condition. In exchange for recycling their used apparel and footwear, customers receive a coupon good towards the purchase of The North Face products in participating stores.
What is a closed loop system?
JR: Normally the product creation process includes many life-cycle stages: Resource extraction – Manufacturing – Transportation – Packaging – Retail – Consumer use – End of Life. The end-of-life stage normally means a product ends up in the landfill. With Clothes the Loop, we are taking those items and giving them a new life, whether that is continuing on as the same product with another person or recycling the product into something new. By keeping these products out of the landfill, we are closing the loop and turning the life-cycle into a circular process instead of a linear one.
When was CTL conceived?
JR: We piloted the program in 2013, expanded to 27 stores in 2014 and now in 2015 we are in all The North Face retail and outlet store in the US.
Why is this program important to TNF?
JR: As a brand founded on the idea of outdoor exploration it is important to protect the places where we like to play. We are also really excited about this program because we can recycle apparel and footwear from any brand and in any condition. When I have ripped socks, I always wondered what best to do with them and now there is an easy solution.
How much textile waste is going into landfills each year?
JR: Approximately 12 million tons of textile waste goes to the landfill in the US each year. That’s approximately 70lbs per person!
What types of textiles can be recycled?
JR: We will be accepting all brands of clothing and shoes, in any clean, dry condition – from wearable to worn, torn or hopelessly out of style. This includes beanies, gloves, scarves, boots, sandals and daypacks. Clean towels and sheets are also accepted. Customers can place the items in the unit individually or in any kind of bag. Unfortunately, there are some items we cannot accept. Those include tents, technical packs, sleeping bags, luggage, rags, fabric scraps, hospital gowns, drapes, blankets and rugs.
What will these textiles be repurposed into?
JR: Through an ongoing relationship with I:Collect (I:CO), items are sent to a recycling center where they are carefully sorted based on over 350 categories. They are then reused to extend their life as apparel and shoes or recycled into raw materials for other products like insulation, carpet padding, stuffing for toys and for new clothing.
How many stores currently allow customers to recycle through the CTL program?
JR: As of April 20, 2014 we will be in all The North Face retail and outlet stores in the US, which is a total of 83 stores.
What other resources are conserved when recycling textiles?
JR: Not only is keeping items out of the landfill important from a waste perspective, it also has a major impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For every 2.3 million tons of textiles recovered, it’s the equivalent to removing 1 million cars off the road.
Where are you allocating the funds brought in by the Clothes the Loop program?
JR: Recycling your old apparel and footwear helps support one of our longstanding partners and preserves our outdoor playground. All proceeds from Clothes the Loop go to The Conservation Alliance, funding community-based campaigns to protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values. When you recycle your clothes in our #ClothesTheLoop #TNFContest (details below), $5 will go to The Conservation Alliance.