Linen supplier and M&S join forces for recycling initiative

The London Linen Group have an excellent proven track record in sustainability. They already possess impressive accolades such as being the UK’s most environmentally friendly laundry service, the winner of two Footprint Awards (Sustainable Supplier and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources), Approved Supplier to the Sustainable Restaurant Association and Winner of the inaugural ACE Sustains Corporate Award.

Among many other notable initiatives, they were the first linen hire and laundry company to introduce an EkoChef Range of garments – chefs jackets, trousers and aprons made from recycled plastic bottles and waste polyester fibre. These items brought with them massive environmental benefits such as 80% less energy used in production, a reduction in greenhouse emissions and a huge saving on landfill.

They pledged to continuously work hard to make improvements to their sustainability, to develop new procedures and processes to further enhance their credentials and to strive for further environmental innovations. Their most recent initiative certainly does not disappoint and is right up there with their previous achievements. It is another first for both the laundry and hospitality industries, and they have already received recognition within the industry for it. Furthermore the interest has been so great that they are about to appear on a BBC documentary regarding the innovation.

The group are now proud to have a Closed Loop Supply Chain. They now recycle all of their textile waste at one location regardless of its composition.

To further enhance this project they have partnered with high street giant Marks & Spencer in the first ever combined closed loop recycled relationship within the industry.

The two companies blend together brilliantly, sharing very similar ethics and long term objectives. With M&S’ dynamic ‘Plan A’ and London Linen’s strong sustainable credentials they work very well together - the relationship is mutually exclusive, highly supportive and hugely beneficial for both parties.

Waste products from London Linen are recycled into the ‘Bag for Life Challenge’ for M&S. 45,000 of these bags are available now across 728 M&S stores nationwide.

It was a carefully thought out venture that took considerable time and substantial effort. The London Linen Group wished to recycle their end of life waste products and they needed it to be commercially sensible. The result was not only a sound environmental outcome but one which offered over £90,000 contribution to Unicef.

Alongside this there are a variety of challenges within the laundry sector. Textile recycling for cotton has a market value; however polycotton and polyester products that are increasingly used within the restaurant sector do not. Due to some textiles having little commercial recycled value due diligence is difficult to manage, meaning that customers’ brands can potentially be compromised. Due to the sector they operate within and the quality they strive for, waste is a natural and cumbersome issue to manage sustainably. This is the same for all organisations within the industry. London Linen were determined to develop a solution to these dilemmas, whilst achieving all their environmental objectives.

Bryn Sutton, Group National Sales Director and Co-ordinator of this Scheme stated “We are delighted with how this project has developed. We have met our objectives and exceeded our own expectations through hard work from everyone involved. It was great working with such a formidable partner as M&S – we complimented each other very well and were both able to benefit hugely from our collaboration; being able to support Unicef was the icing on the cake”.

The group are pleased to have created a fully secured end of life supply chain for their customers’ branded garments. They have done this at no additional cost to their clients and increased donations to a very worthy cause, which they considered to be a crucial requirement throughout the course of planning. The process is completely sustainable, the first of its kind within

the sector and eco-friendly at its core. They are also able to raise substantial funds for charity which was another important aim.

This first to market solution can now be replicated industry wide, creating a robust model for closed loop textile recycling. The group have once again attained a break-through innovation and it will continue with further phases which include the development of new products to the group’s existing range. They also hope to do a variety of further first to market initiatives similar to this in the future.

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