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Shwopping hailed as a success

Marks and Spencers’ customers have donated more than two million items of clothing as part of the company’s ‘Shwopping’ initiative with Oxfam, according to a Plan A half-year report.

M&S reported over 865 tonnes of clothing has been diverted from landfill with around £1.5m raised for Oxfam projects.

The Shwopping initiative, which launched in April this year, allows customers to deposit their unwanted clothes, from any brand, in a M&S or Oxfam store. The items are then recycled or re-used.

In October, M&S announced its first ‘Shwopped’ coats - made from recycled wool collected through the scheme. M&S have also announced the return of their popular ‘world’s most sustainable suit’, which comprises a lining made from recycled bottles and re-used buttons.

“We’re driving change in consumer behaviour with campaigns like Shwopping, our clothes recycling initiative. Over two million items of clothing have been shwopped already, that’s 865 tonnes of clothes that may otherwise have gone to landfill being re-sold, reused or recycled by Oxfam,” commented Richard Gillies, Director of Plan A at M&S.

When the Shwopping scheme launched in April, M&S estimated one in four items sold in the UK ends up in landfill. A WRAP report this summer said that clothing sent to landfill was worth £140m.

The M&S report also highlighted a new hanger recycling scheme run in conjunction with UNICEF. The scheme, in its first year out of three, had delivered 150m hangers back to M&S to be reused. With the money saved, UNICEF has provided services for children in Bengladesh, including day care, early learning centres, and a health and hygeine research.

M&S said that 35% of its products are now attributable to Plan A, such as food in reduced packaging.

Gillies said: “We continue to engage our customers in more sustainable living and passionately believe they are the central force for driving change. 35% of the products we sell - including some of our most popular food and clothing - now have an eco or ethical attribute. That’s over a billion items sold a year.”

The retailer aims to the the world’s most sustainable retailer by 2015, with 50% of products sustainable or eco by 2015, and 100% by 2020.

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