Most of us know that we can recycle common household goods like glass, paper and plastic, but old clothes and shoes often head straight to the dumpster when their time is up. All those old sweatpants and broken heels do not have to end up in landfills, though. When handled by apparel recyclers, materials like rubber, plastics and textile fibers can be recovered to minimize the impact of clothing manufacturing and disposal. In January 2013, sportswear giant PUMA joined the fight to make this type of recycling more widely available with the launch of its Bring Me Back program and InCycle products. In a 2010 study into the environmental impact of its manufacturing processes, PUMA found that 57% of its impact on the environment came from the production of raw materials like leather, cotton and rubber, so the company set about finding ways to decrease its reliance on these virgin resources. The Bring Me Back and InCycle programs combine recycling and sustainable manufacturing techniques to reduce the overall environmental impact of PUMA’s products, as well as ensure that customers will be able to dispose of their unwanted apparel responsibly.
Bring Me Back recycling bin
PUMA Store customers have the opportunity to utilize free shoe, clothing and accessory recycling with the Bring Back Bin. Image courtesy of PUMA.
To launch the Bring Me Back program, PUMA partnered with international recycling company I:CO, which processes more than 500 tons of clothing and shoes worldwide every day. PUMA stores now have collection boxes where customers can drop off old clothing, shoes and bags for recycling. And, these drop boxes are not just for PUMA goods. Customers can drop off unwanted wardrobe items, regardless of the brand. After being dropped off, clothes and shoes are sent to I:CO facilities, where they are sorted and processed. Clothes that are still wearable are sent to secondhand stores, and the material from non-wearable items is recovered and upcycled. Recyclable materials like plastic fibers and rubber soles are collected and used to make new products such as insulation, running tracks and carpet padding, while biodegradable textiles are sent to industrial compost facilities.
Biodegradable PUMA InCycle Basketball Shoe
PUMA’s InCycle Basket sneaker completely biodegrades in approximately six months. Image courtesy of PUMA.
This spring, PUMA is also launching a line of eco-friendly clothes to accompany its recycling efforts. The InCycle collection, which includes shoes, clothing and bags, is made from sustainably sourced materials that are designed to be kind to the environmental from production to disposal. For example, the InCycle track jacket is made from 100% recycled polyester and is designed to make the recovery and reuse of that material as easy as possible. In addition to recycled polyester, the line also uses organic cotton, and many of the products also incorporate biodegradable fibers that can be safely composted. So, this spring when you are done cleaning out your closet, head down to a PUMA store and make sure that your unwanted clothes, shoes and bags meet a responsible end. Keeping these clothes out of the trash saves valuable landfill space and also reduces the amount of water, energy and materials needs to create new products. And, whether you are tossing out those dated jeans or making room for new, eco-friendly shoes, recycling is always in style. Looking for more shoe and clothing recycling locations? Use our recycling location finder to find locations near you!