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All-Product Recycling Initiative

Last Updated: 2015.09.29
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Fast Retailing Maximizes the Value of Clothing

RefugeeCampFast Retailing started its All-Product Recycling Initiative on the belief that it should do more than simply produce and sell high-quality, durable clothing. The program is therefore an important part of its efforts to maximize the value of clothing by collecting its products back from its customers so they can be reused and recycled.

The Fast Retailing Group's All-Product Recycling Initiative began in October 2001 under UNIQLO as the Fleece Recycling Program. The program has since grown to cover all items offered by the UNIQLO and GU brands. The company expanded the program to South Korea in March 2011 and is conducted at UNIQLO and GU stores in 11 countries and regions. Since its launch in 2001, the program has collected over 32.5 million articles of clothing and donated more than 14.2 million items in 53 countries and regions.

In its early days, the All-Product Recycling Initiative's primary aim was to recycle clothing for reuse as a fuel source, but FR eventually shifted the program's focus. It started donating clothing to refugees and other displaced people with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2007. *1

FR employees also visited camps to gain firsthand knowledge of the issues and needs at the sites. They distributed the clothing that the customers donated directly to the people there. The visits allow FR employees to survey conditions of the camps and receive feedback from the recipients.

*1 The UNHCR was established in 1950 to provide assistance to refugees. It actively seeks solutions to the many issues that such individuals face, while providing worldwide protection and support for displaced people. The agency, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954 and 1981, is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Wide Range of Aid in Response to Needs

PertnershipAn increasingly diverse range of people throughout the world desperately need clothing, from refugees and other displaced people to pregnant or nursing mothers and their infants. Many economically disadvantaged people in major cities also need apparel.

FR is tackling these issues in several ways. It is building partnerships with a range of international aid agencies and NGOs.

In November 2013, FR in partnership with the UNHCR donated 800,000 articles of clothing in the areas of the Philippines that were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. Group employees visited Tacloban City, Leyte, the most devastated area in the Philippines. They made a survey of the required clothing aid while personally handing out clothing. Over 80% of the city was destroyed. Almost every element of the city was undergoing repair and restoration, yet the recipients of the clothing still managed to express delight. The recipients shared comments like the following: "I now have the joy of dressing myself." "Even though the typhoon washed away much of my clothing, I now have valuable clothing for going out in."

UNIQLO Malaysia does more than simply distribute clothing to refugees living within its borders. It offers aid that has been creatively arranged to provide more joy. In October 2014, UNIQLO Malaysia in partnership with the UNHCR delivered 700 articles of clothing to 100 women at the Chin Women & Children Refugee Center. The refugee center offers safe haven to the women and children of the Chin race, an ethnic minority in Myanmar and the biggest refugee group in Malaysia. Ethnic and religious oppression that stemmed from their Christian background had forced the refugees to flee their homeland. Fifteen UNIQLO Malaysia employees set up a mock store for those women where the clothing was displayed. The initiative was arranged so that each woman could "shop" and choose six items of her liking.

In December 2014, UNIQLO Malaysia in partnership with the UNHCR and the Dignity for Children Foundation donated clothing to refugees who were living in Kuala Lumpur. About 2,000 articles of clothing that were collected through the All-Product Recycling Initiative were donated to 223 refugees at a special event. Many articles of clothing were arranged at the event site in a mock store format. The event offered the refugees an enjoyable respite, enabling them to experience the joy of choosing their own clothes.

Donation Drives

PosterIn 2014, UNIQLO Japan and South Korea held a campaign called "Share the Warmth" to collect winter clothes and deliver them to Syrian refugees facing a harsh winter in Jordan. Participating stores also distributed message cards in the shape of hearts, so that customers could send their best wishes along with their donated clothes. More than 11,000 cards were collected and, in partnership with international NGO JEN, delivered together with 280,000 articles of clothing before winter set in.

UNIQLO employees visited refugee camps and, together with the refugees, created banners of rainbows using the colorful heart-shaped cards. The colorful rainbows were very popular with people living in a desert otherwise devoid of color. The employees who visited the camps shared the following comments: "I am sharing what I saw and heard with the customers." "I believe in our Company's initiatives now after seeing that our efforts can directly contribute to the well-being of the refugees."

New Challenges

In-store events, announcements, print and online advertisements, as well as social media initiatives, have helped to gradually expand awareness of the All Product Recycling Initiative. FR believes that its contributions have been helpful, but much more still needs to be done, as the UNHCR estimates that there are approximately 51.2 million refugees and displaced people worldwide.

FR wants to raise customer awareness about the recycling program so it can increase the number of items it collects for refugees and displaced people. According to research by the FR Group, only 41.4% of its customers are aware of the program. FR believes that providing more information to its customers about the importance of clothing donations will help to increase participation in the program.

In addition, there is a pressing need for children's clothing in many refugee camps, but only a small percentage of the garments collected under the All-Product Recycling Initiative are kid's items. FR also wants to make the way it collects and distributes clothing more efficient. The company is actively addressing these kinds of issues, in anticipation of new challenges it will face as it provides clothing to more people in need.

All-Product Recycling Initiative−Countries and No. of Donated Items

Time of Aid Country No. of Donated Items Target of Aid
Sept. 2014 Myanmar 80,700 Refugee aid
Sept. 2014 Jordan 251,100 Refugee aid
Sept. 2014 Kenya 252,000 Refugee aid
Aug. 2014 Zambia 208,540 Aid for mothers and children
Aug. 2014 Congo 211,800 Refugee aid
July 2014 Korea 4,000 Aid for homeless people
in Korea
July 2014 Cambodia 800 Aid for people in poverty
May 2014 Syria 1,130,400 Aid for internally
displaced people
Apr. 2014 Yemen 208,500 Aid for refugees and
internally displaced people
Mar. 2014 Malawi 105,000 Refugee aid
Mar. 2014 Cameroon 642,000 Refugee aid
Feb. 2014 Tanzania 236,400 Refugee aid
Jan. 2014 Philippines 800,400 Natural disaster aid
Jan. 2014 Tajikistan 800 Refugee aid
Jan. 2014 Burkina Faso 86,100 Refugee aid
Jan. 2014 Côte d'Ivoire 320,400 Refugee aid
Dec. 2013 Rwanda 279,900 Refugee aid
Dec. 2013 Burundi 319,200 Refugee aid
Dec. 2013 Jordan 57,400 Refugee aid Click for
the photo report
Nov. 2013 Afghanistan 135,430 Aid for mothers and children
Nov. 2013 Senegal 62,100 Aid for mothers and children
Nov. 2013 Togo 126,000 Aid for mothers and children
Nov. 2013 Côte d'Ivoire 65,800 Aid for mothers and children
Oct. 2013 Afghanistan 20,400 Humanitarian aid
Sept. 2013 Saudi Arabia 800 Aid for widows
Sept. 2013 Angola 18,900 Refugee aid
Aug. 2013 Liberia 128,800 Aid for mothers and children
July 2013 Zambia 196,000 Aid for mothers and children
July 2013 Burundi 64,000 Aid for mothers and children
July 2013 Jordan 548,400 Refugee aid
June 2013 Liberia 179,346 Refugee aid
Apr. 2013 South Africa 16,100 Refugee aid
Mar. 2013 Swaziland 2,800 Refugee aid
Mar. 2013 Zambia 49,000 Refugee aid
Mar. 2013 Malawi 84,770 Refugee aid
Feb. 2013 Afghanistan 181,800 Aid for mothers and children
Feb. 2013 Mozambique 23,800 Refugee aid
Jan. 2013 Bangladesh 53,620 Refugee aid
Jan. 2013 Nepal 42,000 Refugee aid
Jan. 2013 Zimbabwe 36,050 Refugee aid
Jan. 2013 Jordan 22,400 Refugee aid Click for
the photo report
Jan. 2013 Botswana 89,600 Refugee aid
Jan. 2013 Jordan and Iraq 40 Refugee aid
Jan. 2013 Jordan 15,850 Refugee aid
Dec. 2012 Namibia 25,900 Refugee aid
Dec. 2012 Kenya 38,600 Refugee aid
Dec. 2012 Jordan 170,800 Refugee aid
Nov. 2012 Jordan 17,500 Refugee aid
Oct. 2012 Jordan 8,750 Refugee aid
Oct. 2012 Morocco 4,300 Refugee aid
Sept. 2012 Rwanda 93,100 Refugee aid
Aug. 2012 Sierra Leone 115,400 Aid for mothers and children
Aug. 2012 Morocco 3,500 Refugee aid
July 2012 Jordan 100 Refugee aid
June 2012 Zambia 261,800 Aid for mothers and children
June 2012 China 4,900 Domestic aid Click for
the photo report
May 2012 Kenya 2,103 Refugee aid
April 2012 Bangladesh 88,200 Refugee aid
April 2012 Kyrgyzstan 66,008 Aid for internally
displaced people
Mar. 2012 Kenya 3,012 Refugee aid Click for
the photo report
Mar. 2012 Haiti 67,200 Aid for mothers and children
Mar. 2012 Liberia 135,100 Aid for mothers and children
Feb. 2012 Kyrgyzstan 21,481 Aid for internally
displaced people
Jan. 2012 Kenya 957,500 Refugee aid
Dec. 2011 Zambia 190,680 Aid for mothers and children
Sept. 2011 Afghanistan 136,500 Aid for mothers and children
Sept. 2011 Afghanistan 136,500 Aid for mothers and children
Aug. 2011 Botswana 176,600 Aid for mothers and children
Aug. 2011 Kenya 17,120 Refugee aid
July 2011 South Sudan 109,780 Refugee aid
July 2011 Kenya 246,900 Aid for mothers and children
May 2011 Syria 16,268 Refugee aid
May 2011 Nepal 103,800 Refugee aid
Apr. 2011 Tanzania 243,000 Aid for mothers and children
Feb. 2011 Zambia 468,000 Aid for mothers and children Click for
the photo report
Oct. 2010 Serbia 130,000 Refugee aid
Aug. 2010 Tajikistan 50,000 Refugee aid
Aug. 2010 Kazakhstan 50,000 Refugee aid
Aug. 2010 Kyrgyzstan 169,951 Refugee aid
Feb. 2010 Haiti 9,000 Emergency aid
Jan. 2010 Afghanistan 460,000 Emergency aid
Sept. 2009 Sri Lanka 300,000 Emergency aid
Sept. 2009 Nepal 65,000 Refugee aid Click for
the photo report
June 2009 Pakistan 76,000 Refugee aid
March 2009 Georgia 280,000 Aid for internally
displaced people
Click for
the photo report
Jan. 2009 Afghanistan 40,000 Emergency aid
Dec. 2008 Lebanon 8,000 Aid for refugees and
internally displaced people
June 2008 Ethiopia 150,000 Refugee aid Click for
the photo report
May 2008 Myanmar 200,000 Emergency aid (cyclone)
Mar. 2008 Nepal 212,000 Emergency aid (fire)
Jan. 2008 Bangladesh 130,000 Emergency aid (cyclone)
Nov. 2007 Tanzania 80,000 Refugee aid Click for
the photo report
Nov. 2007 Uganda 157,000 Emergency aid (flooding)
Nov. 2007 Uganda 140,000 Aid for internally
displaced people
Feb. 2007 Nepal 60,000 Refugee aid
Feb. 2007 Thailand 70,000 Refugee aid Click for
the photo report

Total Donations (by the end of September 2014)

No. of Items Collected in 11 Countries
and Regions
No. of Items Donated to 53 Countries
and Regions
32.5million items 14.2 million items

All-Product Recycling Initiative: Overview

Collection Methods

Collection Period Regular business hours
Collection Site UNIQLO and GU stores in Japan, South Korea, UK, US, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Shanghai, Thailand and Malaysia
Collection Method Place clothing in the Recycle Boxes in front of stores or notify staff
Valid Items All products sold by UNIQLO and GU

Key Points Before Donating Clothing

  • Please wash all items at home so they can be delivered in good condition
  • Torn or stained items that cannot be reused as clothing can still be recycled for industrial purposes to maximize their use

Fast Retailing's All-Product Recycling Initiative

Recycle Flow

Items Collected

Items Collected

The Role of Clothing

Clothing is not just something that you wear. It also provides comfort, dignity and ensures safety and hygiene. FR sincerely hopes that its clothing donations can give refugees the chance to experience the joy, happiness and satisfaction of wearing truly great clothing.

Benefits of Quality Apparel

Safety and hygiene Clothing prevents scrapes, cuts and the spread of infections
Protection from extreme weather conditions Clothing protects the body from the heat and the cold
Educational opportunities Clothing can motivate children to go to school
Dignity Clothing offers a means of self-expression
Social importance for women Clothing offers women the opportunity to actively participate in comunity activities in the refugee camps
Independence Clothing can encourage people to participate in community activities and work toward self-reliance
Reusability Clothing can be recycled and reused to protect the environment
Comfort Clothing provides comfort to refugees

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