I:CO has created a global take-back system for collecting used apparel, footwear and other garments for reuse and recycling.

Through its simple consumer and business take-back system, along with its worldwide infrastructure, I:CO aims to keep the materials used in clothing and shoes in a continuous closed-loop product cycle. As a result, I:CO increases the lifespan of processed materials and encourages manufacturers to be mindful of resource use in their designs.

Through cooperation with large retail partners, used shoes and clothing are collected in stores and other retail outlets. As an incentive to participate, customers are financially rewarded for depositing their used items. The collected clothes, shoes and textiles are sorted according to more than 350 criteria for further processing or recycling. Used clothes can be labeled as suitable for second-hand sale, recycled into fibers and paddings, or upcycled into products of equal or higher quality.

There is no alternative to closed loop product cycles.

Stephan Wiegand – CEO, I:Collect AG

Why you should care

Used textiles and footwear are made from valuable natural or oil-based resources such as cotton, leather and polyester. Currently however, after a product’s first or second life cycle, these resources are discarded in landfill. An alternative way to effectively handle used textiles and footwear is to re-process them as raw materials for creating new products. To meet this challenge, the I:CO system closes the recycling loop, providing the basis for a profitable ‘circular economy’.

How the Global Goals are addressed

Decent work and economic growth

I:CO also collects clothing in developing countries like Kenya, aiming to boost local recycling economies. All players, customers and retailers, benefit economically from the recycling process.

Responsible consumption and production

I:CO receives hundreds of tons of used clothing daily, reducing waste sent to landfills. The initiative makes it easy for consumers, as I:CO has take-back programs with more than 60 retail partners.

Climate action

Keeping processed materials in circulation can help to reduce the emissions associated with turning raw materials, such as oil and hides, into useable materials, such as yarns or leather.