Collect, reuse, recycle

Customers and employees can drop off their used clothing, footwear and accessories at points across a number of our main markets.

The best way to reduce waste is to reuse and recycle items instead of throwing them away. We hope our customers love our products, that they will wear and rewear them, repair what can repaired, and when they have finished with them pass them on for others to enjoy.

Reusing items without making any changes to them is the greenest option. But when a product comes to the end of its useful life, we look to make the most of any parts of it that we can or recycle it into something of the same or greater value. We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to reuse and recycle. Teaming up with non-profit organisations, recycling companies, textile manufacturers and recycling technologists, we have launched the Closing the Loop project to prevent used textile items from ending up in landfills.

Customers and employees can drop off their used clothing, footwear and accessories at collection points in 1.382 stores in 24 markets, as well as cities and offices across a number of our main markets. By 2020, 100% of our stores in the world will have an active garment collection scheme.

In other pilot projects, our online customers can send their old clothes back to us for processing by collection or return post.

The items collected are sorted for repair, resale or recycle

Collect reuse recycle II

The items collected are donated to non-profit partners, including Caritas, Red Cross, Oxfam and CEPF, and sorted for repair, resale or recycling; in the case of Caritas this provides jobs for people at risk of social exclusion. The funds raised in the sale of items are kept by our non-profit partners. As another commitment with the Global Fashion Agenda, by 2020, we will have established partnerships with 40 local non-profit organisations for the re-sale of used garments.

Besides, Zara  has a free at-home clothing collection service  in several cities in Spain and China that will be extended along 2019 to Paris, London and New York.

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In our commitment to closed-loop sustainability, we are helping the best in the field develop and improve recycling technology – with the near objective of making new raw materials of equal or better quality than those collected, and creating a closed-loop production cycle. By 2020, we will invest USD 3.5 million in this field, as mentioned in our Global Fashion Agenda commitments. As part of this, we cooperate with Lenzing, the Austrian producer of the plant-based sustainable textile fibre TENCEL™ Lyocell, for the manufacture of premium textile raw materials from our textile waste.

We are also championing research into technology for the creation of new textiles from recycled garments together with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and specific Spanish universities as Vigo University (in cooperation with Clermont, in France), País Vasco, Granada (together with Hamburg, in Germany) and Politécnica de Valencia. 

Reuse and recycle in our own operations

We also reuse and recycle in our own operations where we can, aiming to achieve our target of zero waste to landfills by 2020. For instance, in our stores we have a dedicated system for collecting clothes hangers and security tags so that they are reused, repaired or recycled. We managed to do this to 100% of our tags and hangers in the last year, accounting for 120 million and 1,201 million units respectively. We recently added fluorescent tubes, pallets and bags to our internal reuse systems too.

The cardboard boxes travelling between our distribution hubs and our stores also have a long life. They carry clothes to our stores and come back with clothes hangers and other materials, making the journey on average six times before they are recycled.

Zara is gradually incorporating in its stores new bags made from 100% recycled and reusable paper, which have have FSC sustainability certification. These new bags, that will be present at the stores all along the year, reduce  the use of ink by more than 70% and saves more than 30% on water consumption during production. In 2020, we will have deleted all the plastic bags in all our brands and, in 2023, we will have 100% single-use plastic free to customers.. 

As part of our Green to Pack project, whose primary objective is to optimise the packaging used throughout the supply chain and reduce waste of any kind as much as possible, the gift envelopes will also be replaced, the design matching the new bags and online order boxes.

We are also innovating so all plastics we do need in any of our activities are designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted; and circulate everything we use to keep it in the economy and out of the environment, as addresed in the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with UN Environment. By 2023, all single-use plastics will have been totally eliminated for customers sales.

Some key data related to our reuse and recycling behaviour:
  • 14,824 tonnes of garments, shoes and complements collected in our stores, offices and street containers in 2018
  • 100% of company waste sent for recycling or appropriate environmental management
  • 1,010 million security tags reused, repaired or recycled 
  • 110 million hangers recycled