CASE STUDY: SORT Recycling gives new life to damaged stock

Unsellable damaged and returned stock is a little spoken of waste stream flowing from the entire retail sector. In response to this inevitable issue, Kathmandu and SORT Recycling Marrickville have trialled a new program to turn this trash into treasure.

The larger issue

Through the NSW EPA’s Circulate project, Kathmandu partnered with Edge Environment to find solutions to a common retail waste stream – damaged or unwanted stock returned by customers. In most cases, the issues with these products are very minor– a loose seam or unaligned zip, which nevertheless render these items unsellable.

“Kathmandu has a strong sustainability agenda, our brand being implicitly linked to nature and the outdoors. Damaged and returned stock has long been a troublesome waste stream for us to manage,” says Oliver Milliner, Kathmandu’s Sustainability Co-ordinator.

Kathmandu already operates it’s own seconds outlet, but the items that aren’t resold end up in landfill. All retailers are in an identical situation, left with huge amounts of customer returns.

The next step was to find a way to give these unwanted goods a second lease on life by either reusing or recycling them, which is where SORT Recycling comes into the picture.

“Kathmandu is the perfect partner for this trial, delivering head torches, backpacks, warm clothing and even inflatable pillows. These items are a perfect fit for our partner charities delivering these items to those doing it tough on the streets of Sydney,” says Zerlina Hasse of SORT Recycling.

Repairing returned or damaged stock

SORT Recycling sorts, tests and repairs a range of items that could then be gifted to local charities. SORT also partners with the NSW Government’s Work for the Dole program, enabling workers to develop useful skills repairing items.

Future possibilities

Edge Environment continues to be involved in Kathmandu’s sustainability objectives and is seeking to increase the recovery of damaged or returned stock among other retailers. Get in touch if you need a hand with your waste stream.

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