Corporate uniforms: the first step en route to the Circular Economy

Oakdene Hollins can advise on taking that first symbolic step towards achieving a Circular Economy model - through the way you handle your unwanted corporate uniforms.

Through its Circular Economy 100 programme the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has played a key role in convincing companies to commit making the linear economy a thing of the past. Products which for many years have been sold to consumers and readily thrown away are now being redesigned to circulate within the economy for longer.

The suitability of a wide range of products for redesign and their successful introduction into the Circular Economy has already been demonstrated, and the number of products and ideas developed to advance Circular Economy models will only increase from now on. But early experience has shown, without personal commitment throughout an entire organisation, implementing change away from the linear economy can be difficult.

At Oakdene Hollins we know that taking on this challenge represents a big step for any organisation. An ideal starting point is an organisation's own corporate uniforms, and it is here that we can apply our technical expertise and advise on taking that first symbolic step towards achieving a Circular Economy model. In the UK, disposal of corporate wear creates 16,290 tonnes of waste annually. Only 9% of this is currently being recycled or reused effectively: the remainder is sent to landfill or fed into waste-to-energy routes.

Uniform Reuse, managed by Oakdene Hollins, has worked with such organisations as the Nationwide Building Society and the Royal Mail Group to investigate how uniforms can be diverted from landfill via reuse or recycling initiatives. Ocado has recently implemented an 'upcycling' initiative, creating products from old uniforms and selling them on.

Suppliers of corporate wear know that price, range and service make the difference. But customers with ambition to join the Circular Economy are asking for more. What will you be offering?

Simon Strick