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How to replenish your underwear sustainably?

Terracycle has partnered with retailer Parade to recycle items of clothing that are often overlooked: underwear.

Their take-back scheme accepts all brands and styles of new and used underwear (currently only bottoms). Consumers can send washed items to be recycled for free by ordering a mail-in kit online. It is a sizeable waste stream and approximately 5 000 tonnes of underwear end up in US landfills every day.

Returned underwear is processed at one of Terracycle’s material recovery facilities, where it’s first sorted by type and cleaned. It is then mechanically shredded and re-spun into textile shoddy. Terracycle says the material will be transformed into new products such as furniture, insulation, vehicle underlay and bedding.

As a reward for recycling, consumers earn points towards the cost of new underwear from Parade shops. Supporting sustainability is very important to the brand, says company ceo Cami Téllez. ‘We put our money where our mouth is. That’s why we donate 1% of sales to non-profit organisations we believe in.’ Clients can choose which organisation they want to support at the check-out and then track the donation online to see the impact it’s making.

The global market for women’s intimate wear in 2021 was worth almost US$ 18 billion (EUR 16 billion) in the US alone. Statista figures show China was in second place on US$ 17 billion while the UK is the leading European market at US$ 3.6 billion. Japan is just behind on US$ 3.5 billion.

Online sales and supermarkets branching out to sell clothes is said to have boosted sector growth. Momentum in this niche market continues to be strong. The global underwear market (for both men and women) is expected to be worth over US$ 325 billion by 2025, according to new data from Allied Market Research. Its analysts predict 8.1% compound annual growth rate from 2018 to 2025.

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