Last week, global closed-loop textile recycling company I:CO announced an expanded partnership with American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (AEO) to roll out its clothing and shoes recycling program in all of American Eagle’s 823 stores across the United States and Canada.
As of June 14th, customers are now able to drop off used or unwanted clean clothing, shoes and textiles from any brand into the specifically marked I:CO boxes at any North American location. Participating customers will be rewarded with a text code for $5 off a pair of AEO jeans to be used in store that day. All proceeds from the program will be donated to the Student Conservation Association, one of AEO’s national charity partners.
The program is I:CO’s widest North American partnership to date, building on the success of American Eagle Outfitters’ initial pilot program with I:CO, which took place across their corporate offices, in six stores, and in the inaugural I:CO city of San Francisco.
”We are committed to helping protect the environment through sustainability programs at American Eagle Outfitters and believe that launching the recycling program with I:CO will be a great way to make a big impact in protecting our planet,” said Helga Ying, VP of External Engagement and Social Responsibility. “With the help of our customers, we can prevent clothing and shoes from being simply tossed away so they can be reused or reverted to basic materials for manufacturing, producing far less waste.”
American Eagle Outfitters’ commitment to closing the loop on the textile production cycle brings increased awareness of the growing issue of textile waste, as currently more than 22.3 billion pounds of unwanted clothing, shoes and other textiles end up in US landfills annually, I:CO says. Instead, I:CO works with partner brands to collect and sort all donated materials by more than 350 different criteria to determine their most effective next use, from reuse and recycling to upcycling into new materials and products.
“We are humbled and inspired by American Eagle Outfitters’ commitment to dramatically scale up their textile recycling program and take on this important issue in the apparel industry,” said Stephan Wiegand, CEO of I:CO. “We can’t wait to see what happens when American Eagle Outfitters’ employees and customers work together to create a culture and habit of environmental consciousness by giving a second life to their used and unwanted goods.”
This broadened partnership with American Eagle Outfitters builds upon I:CO’s work across the apparel and footwear industry in more than 50 countries and with more than 60 brands, including H&M, Levi Strauss & Co., The North Face, Puma and Forever21.
While I:CO is working to eliminate tons of textile waste here in the US through recycling and upcycling them into new materials, in Europe a company called Dutch aWEARness is working to create the first truly closed loop supply chain for textiles. The company creates clothes and uniforms from 100 percent recyclable polyester (called Returnity®); it maintains ownership of the materials and its customers (including VW and Desso) pay for the performance of the clothes over an agreed number of years. Once the products reach end of life, they are collected, shredded, melted and turned back into yarn, closing the loop with no loss of quality, the company says. Dutch aWEARness is now working with the European Commission (EC) to examine how this approach can be scaled and adopted across Europe.