Why Reformation Decided to Outsource its Recycling Program

Sustainability is at the core of the Reformation’s messaging. In addition to typical size and fit info, each product is listed with its “sustainability impact,” including the water, waste, and carbon dioxide saved in making the garment. And in 2015, the company introduced RefRecyling, its first recycling program, and declared itself carbon neutral.

But now, Reformation has a new vision for recycling.

The wheels began to turn while working with SuperCircle, a fiber-to-fiber recycling program, on a shoe collection last year. Reformation realized that, to scale their recycling program, the team needed better logistics. And a big benefit from the SuperCircle partnership is that Reformation doesn’t have to touch the control board.

The tech touch: “We’re not in the business of reverse logistics and finding the right freight solutions,” Kathleen Talbot, chief sustainability officer and VP of operations at Reformation, told Retail Brew. “It’s not sexy, [but] highly operational, and requires this specialized platform. We realized…this is one of the things brands need in order to do this.”

The company unveiled its revamped recycling program last month. Consumers drop off their used Reformation goods at its US stores—or ship them—and receive credit for future purchases ($25 for shoes, $15 for jeans, $10 for sweaters and activewear). From there, SuperCircle’s tech-enabled system takes over. It collects the items, gets them to the SuperCircle central warehouses, sorts and aggregates them by material type, and then sends them off to textile-recycling partners who convert the products into fibers for use in new products.

“[SuperCircle] owns the reverse logistics…both the front-end customer platform, as well as a back-end logistics and ops, so that the brands really can stand it up pretty quickly with less dedicated tech and support,” Talbot said.

The platform lets customers access previously purchased products and select them for recycling. Customers can also follow their garments’ journeys and see whether they were upcycled, recycled, or downcycled.

“What’s nice about that, from a brand point of view, is, again, it’s all kind of pre-engineered.”

Reformation pays a monthly platform fee, the company said, plus a per-unit fee for processing and shipping.

Loyalty plays: Reformation joins brands like Parade and Allbirds in rolling out incentivized recycling programs. RefRecycling isn’t just a move for customer loyalty, Talbot said—it will also contribute to the company’s goal of being climate positive by 2025.

“We’re trying to be really thoughtful about how we incentivize for the right type of behavior and more sustainable choices,” Talbot said. “And hopefully it does help build some of that brand love and loyalty in the process.”

+1: Just today, Reformation introduced a new “Circular Denim” collection, including jeans made from 20% recycled scrap cotton and 80% FibreTrace cotton.

Source: Morning Brew