Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Ocado Promotes Education Through Its Old Uniform Recycling


Ocado has a same approach to old uniform as to “redistributing food waste”.

Dailycsr.com – 04 December 2018 – Almost over one third of people working have to don uniform at their workplace, says Tom Idle. However, after the uniforms have been used to its maximum capacity, most find their place in the dust bins. As a result, “a staggering 90% of the 33 million corporate garments” that go to the staff become landfill on an annual basis.
Nevertheless, recovering these old uniforms for recycling is not an easy task. Most of the corporate uniforms are made out of polyester which can be “infinitely” recycled, although “collecting branded clothing” involves “security and brand reputation” matters; therefore most of them are not being part of a sustainable cycle.
Ocado is the “biggest pure-play online retailer” in the world and it has made a determination of reducing the environmental impact caused by the uniform of its staff while the way of achieving this will be directly beneficial to people. Tom Idle said:
“More than 5,600 people at Ocado wear a uniform for work each day. When those uniforms are no longer needed, they are sent to HMP Northumberland. There, the garments, which would otherwise have been incinerated, are totally transformed. Unwanted fleeces, trousers and polo shirts are de-branded and turned into raw materials. These are then turned into new products which are sold online, with proceeds going to charitable recycling projects”.
In the words of Ocado’s Corporate Resposibility Head, Suzanne Westlake:
“We take the same approach to uniform refashioning as we do with redistributing food waste; we try not to offload our responsibilities on to somebody else”.
“We firmly believe in supporting education projects, and in taking responsibility for our waste. With a uniform rebrand on the horizon, we had a lot of good quality materials for offenders to work with. There's no point in sending partners rags – people can't learn a trade if the material they're working with isn’t of a certain standard.”
The recycling of old uniforms into new finished products at Ocado, including “designing and cutting new patterns and machine-stitching”, is no less than a “complete manufacturing process”. Moreover, it is also important as the designing work of Ocado products “counts towards offenders’ studies for a Performing Manufacturing Operations qualification (PMO), equivalent to a Level 2 NVQ”.
While HMP Northumberland’s offender, Ian, who spent fifteen months to gain the “PMO qualification” for progressing as a supervisor, said:
“Not all of our projects are end-to-end, so it’s nice to work on the Ocado stuff and see the finished garments evolve from raw fabric. When I first came in, I knew nothing about textiles. I wouldn’t have thought you could do this kind of thing with an old jacket. These projects make your mind tick over and help you feel more useful.
“I’ve learnt more in here than I did on the outside.”
Almost ninety nine tonnes of uniform were sent to the prison for recycle purposes, while Ocado also made a donation of “800 of its de-branded waterproof coats” in collaboration with Sodexo. Further Westlake stated:
“Education has the power to change lives”.
“Unlike a traditional commercial contract, we’re not bound by minimum volumes or strict timelines on this. We can wait, so the partnership can grow at a pace that suits both of us.”