Uniqlo to recycle its used garments

The Associated Press

Shoppers at the popular Uniqlo clothing chain will soon be able to drop off their used Uniqlo-brand clothes to be shipped to refugee camps or reprocessed for industrial use.

The initiative expands a recycling program under which customers have brought back about 340,000 used fleece jackets since 2001, Uniqlo spokeswoman Keiko Yamamoto said Tuesday.

Customers can now drop off all old garments twice a year, in March and September, at the chain’s 730 outlets.

Uniqlo, wholly owned by Fast Retailing Inc., is revving up its recycling campaign as it expands aggressively internationally, in such markets as the United States, Britain and continental Asia, with ambitions to challenge U.S.-based Gap Inc.

Clothes that are still usable will be donated to such organizations as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, while the rest will be reprocessed to be used as insulation or fuel, the Yamaguchi Prefecture-based company said.

“We don’t want to just sell clothes without thinking about what happens to them down the road,” Yamamoto said. “We want to recycle clothes so we don’t waste them.”

In a test campaign in September, Uniqlo collected 140,000 garments and donated nearly all of them to refugee camps in Thailand and Nepal, the company said.