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John Lewis trials clothing buy-back scheme

The department store is buying back customers’ unwanted clothes to cut landfill.

John Lewis is trialling a buy-back service for customers’ unwanted clothes to help reduce the 300,000 tonnes sent to UK landfill each year.

More than 100 customers are currently testing the scheme that allows them to sell any unwanted clothing back to the department store, regardless of its condition.

The app-based service links to a customer’s John Lewis account data on what they have bought from its 50 stores or website over the past five years.

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 Stuffstr

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 £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.

The trial has seen John Lewis pay £4 for a pair of broken cashmere gloves bought in 2015, £8 for a pencil skirt bought in 2014 and £11 for a top bought in 2016.

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

John Lewis developed the idea with social enterprise Stuffstr, which partners with retailers to buy back used items and recycle them.

Martyn White, sustainability manager at 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.

“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.”

Stuffstr chief executive John Atcheson said: “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.

“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.”

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