Gadget Show: Regain clothes recycling app

regain

If you missed Wallop of the Week on the Gadget Show, December 7, talking about the Regain app here are a few more details about this clever way of gaining discounts on your shopping, while also saving the planet:

Regain app – what is it?

It is a free app (on both iOS and Android) that allows consumers to send unwanted clothes off to a recycling company, Yellow Octopus. In return, they receive money-off or discount vouchers on their shopping.

Regain claim that up to 300,000 tonnes of clothes get sent to landfill every year in the UK. It wants to encourage consumers, particularly younger ones more likely to indulge in fast fashion, to recycle those T-shirts and jeans, rather than throw them away.

How does the app it work? 

It uses geolocation to tell you where your nearest drop-off point is for your unwanted clothes. This will invariably a nearby corner shop, which uses Collect Plus. There are tens of thousands across the country.

You then tell the app that you want to drop off the clothes. You then pack up your clothes into a sealed bag, or box, and take it to the drop-off location. There is no need to print off a label at home – a detail that I liked. At the corner shop or post office you show the app to the shopkeeper. The app produces a barcode, which the shopkeeper scans. He or she will then print off a label, attach it to your parcel, and send it off to Regain.

Half an hour later, you will receive a notification that you can unlock your discount. You can then chose which discount you want, from a menu of options.

Is it easy to use?

I tried it out. And found it very easy to use. My corner shop, which is registered with Regain, is considerably closer to home than my local charity shop and I always have old children’s clothes that need giving away.

My discount voucher took more like 3 hours, rather than half an hour, to arrive. But Regain insists that’s because it has recently expanded its network of shops and there have been a few teething problems.

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What clothes can you send off?

Any. It doesn’t matter if they are in poor condition. You need to send a minimum of 10 items for it to be worthwhile for Regain, and a maximum of about 2kg per drop-off. The only things you can’t send off is bedding and towels.

You can only drop off one parcel per week so that you don’t take advantage of Regain’s generosity.

Where do the clothes end up?

Regain takes a punt that among the 10 or more items there will be some decent quality clothes. It sells those on to the West African and Eastern European markets, in particular, where second hand clothes are big business.

The poor quality stuff gets sold off to be turned into rags to be used in, for instance, car seats and insulation.

What are the discounts like?

The standard discount is 20%. Sometimes you can get up to 25% or even 30% or £10 off if you spend £50. So far, there are a relatively small number of retailers offering discounts. They include mostly youth-orientated fashion brands, including Misguided, Boohoo, and Pretty Little Thing. Trainer brands Asics and New Balance are also on the app.

It has been pointed out to me, by @bambibunny1983 on Twitter that quite a few of the discounts on the regain app are discounts already available elsewhere. That’s a fair criticism. Pretty Little Thing and Asics, for instance, are companies that frequently offer discount vouchers. Regain say they are working on getting as many partners on board as possible, meaning there should be a greater variety of discounts available soon.

Aren’t charity shops losing out?

Fair point. Yes, they probably are. But Regain takes clothes that charity shops would turn their noses up. And it’s worth remembering that charity shops themselves sell on many of the clothes they are given to the East European and West African markets. I wrote about it here.

Does this really stop waste? Doesn’t it encourage yet more spending?

Again, fair point. Regain claims it is unrealistic to stop consumers, particularly young ones, from buying new clothes. What it wants to do is encourage more recycling.

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