Unfortunately, the textile industry is known for producing large quantities of waste along its value chain and polluting the environment with it. One important approach for the industry to counteract this is the closed-loop principle, in which materials that are no longer needed are not simply disposed of and destroyed, but are recycled – or ideally even reused in the company’s own manufacturing process.

Recycling of waste

Before we even allow for waste, in the spirit of resource efficiency we always start by trying to avoid waste or, at least minimise it. In a third step, we then pursue the approach that wherever functioning separation and recycling systems are available along our value chain, they should of course be used. This concerns the daily disposal of office waste at our own locations, as well as packaging waste in logistics, such as foils and cardboard boxes, and waste from production, such as fabric waste.

Utilisation of remaindered goods

By contrast, clothes that we didn’t sell in a given season, known as ‘remaindered goods’, usually are reused in a different way. Flawless goods are classified in the s.Oliver Group according to the reason for their return and then resold through various sales channels (e.g. in outlets). In parts, we also donate unsold clothing to charitable organizations. In the context of the Corona pandemic in 2020, for example, the company donated 10,000 items of clothing to the Malteser charity in Würzburg, which distributes the goods as needed. But s.Oliver also provided numerous jackets to the “Bahnhofsmission” as part of the "Wärme spenden" campaign (“Donate warmth”) last fall. Only in rare exceptional cases where the goods are clearly unsaleable because of high quality defects they will be destroyed, after prior inspection.

In addition, planning and assortment design contribute to the avoidance of remaindered goods. In order to meet the needs of end consumers, pre-order orders have to be placed for the stocking of merchandise in the stores and in the warehouse. We produce 80 percent of our merchandise in line with specific customer orders. The collection development required in advance is based on experience, trends and forecasts. These forecasts are made at the shortest possible time. The aim is to use artificial intelligence and shorten the time-to-market (time from product development to delivery) to make our product range even more tailored to our customers' needs and demands in the future. In this way we can also to reduce remaindered goods.

Use of recycled fibres

To make a further contribution to the closed-loop principle in textile production and make the use of synthetic fibres in particular more environmentally friendly, we are also increasingly addressing the use of recycled fibre materials in our products. On the one hand, we are increasingly purchasing products that contain fibres made from recycled plastic such as PET bottles. On the other hand, there are recycled fibres that are obtained from used clothing. In the latter case, clothing that has already been worn is first broken down into its original components, from which new raw materials and new yarns are produced in various process steps. To ensure the highest standards in the processes used and to document the use of recycled fibres in the product, we require our suppliers to provide proof of certain certifications: the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and the Recycled Claim Standards (RCS) set by the Textile Exchange standards organisation.