Lawson to start collecting used clothing

REUTERS/Toru Hanai
A sign board of a Lawson convenience store is see in Tokyo, Japan September 16, 2016.

Lawson Inc. will begin an initiative to collect clothes people no longer need at convenience stores and reuse them via recycling or as secondhand clothing.

The major convenience store operator plans to team up with Nippon Shuppan Hanbai Inc., a major publishing agency, to implement the system. The companies plan to transport used clothing in the empty space of trucks after book deliveries are made, using the book delivery network for Lawson’s outlets.

Lawson will install dedicated collection boxes starting Monday at its new environmentally friendly Green Lawson store in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, which opened in November.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The firm intends to gradually expand the number of stores adopting the scheme after verifying usage and effectiveness for the system. It aims to introduce the system at 1,000 outlets by the end of February 2025, with the hope of attracting more customers by turning stores into recycling hubs.

When Nippon Shuppan delivers books to Lawson stores, its trucks will collect used clothing along with returned magazines and other items. The collected clothes will be shipped overseas as secondhand clothes through recycling companies, or recycled to make work gloves, cleaning cloths and other products.

Lawson also intends to develop new products made from used clothing in the future.

With consumers becoming more environmentally conscious, efforts to collect and recycle used clothing are spreading in the retail and apparel industries.

Fast Retailing Co., the operator of casual clothing giant Uniqlo, has since 2020 been selling products made from reused down collected from Uniqlo brand down jackets.

Takashimaya Co. and Ryohin Keikaku Co., the company behind Muji, collect clothing they have sold that is no longer needed, and are marketing garments made from recycled materials.

However, only about 34% of the clothing donated by Japanese households is utilized for reuse or recycling, and two-thirds is disposed of as garbage, according to the Environment Ministry.

With highly trafficked convenience stores serving as collection points, Lawson’s scheme is expected to help reduce waste and increase reuse, observers said.