Recycling has been one of the major ways in which companies have been undertaking their CSR. It is well understood that the amount of waste products after consumption or production wastes has been increasing, creating a problem of dumping and, consequently causing pollution. However, through various companies research and development programs, some of the wastes have been transformed into useful raw material to produce new items . This research paper discusses the UNQLO recycling Campaign.
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Background for UNIQLO and its recycling campaign
UNIQLO is one of the brands of Fast Retailing Co. Ltd (FR) that operates a campaign called UNIQLO Recycling Campaign . This CSR project has been running since 2001.The first UNIQLO casual wear store was opened in 1984, in Japan and enjoyed a rapid growth by developing a network of roadside UNIQLO. In 1998, FR opened its first urban store of UNIQLO in Tokyos Harajuku area and then gained repute in all other urban areas of Tokyo. Seven years later the company had over 700 stores within Japan and, later become Japans leading retail chain in specialty clothing . It then spread to other countries as far as UK, France and US.
The FR began its All Product Recycling campaign upon the belief that it could do more than just production of durable and high quality clothes. The initiative began under UNIQLO in 2001 as a program of recycling its fleece . It later grew to include all products sold by UNIQLO and the programs expanded to S. Korea and currently in stores within more than 10 countries.
Initially, all products recycling campaign was meant to recycle the clothes to be reused as a source of fuel. However, the project shifted the plan and started donating clothing to refugees as well as other people who were displaced and in need of clothing as would be identified by the UNHCR .
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The UNIQLO recycling campaign
UNIQLOs CSR vision is to, make the world a better place while the recycling campaigns slogan is Bringing truly great clothing to people in need the world over. When the recycling campaign was started, the aim was to reuse and recycle in the textile industry. However, UNIQLO noted that some of the clothes that were being collected were still were wearable. This led to the idea of extending the companys clothes lives by donating to the individuals around the world who were in need. The company believes that its responsibility is to follow up its products and collect them once they are uses to give them new purpose. As a brand in the apparel industry, the company pursues to increase the useful value of its clothes and often refers to its products shareable .
The campaign period for collection is usually during the months of March and September. From day one of the two months to the last days, the UNIQLO stores all over the world collect from customers any product that is sold in UNIQLO stores. Although the stores accept all the products that they sell, they have to be clean; any dirty or market items are not accepted. This is because the campaign intends to provide the needy people with respectable clothes. After collections, the clothes are sorted out to fit the cultural requirements and preferences of the people in the target destinations . Afterwards, UNIQLO and its partners deliver the sorted clothes to needy people all over the world.
The campaigns success
The campaign is seen to have been successful from various angles. Firstly, the campaign has succeeded in collaborating with global partners such as the UNCHR in its quest to deliver clothing to evacuees, refugees, victims of disasters, as well as expectant mothers and old people around the world . In 2007, the campaign collected over 300,000 clothes during its March campaign. Over 80% of the collection was donated to African refugees especially in Uganda. Since the inception, the project has been able to collect more than 29 million items of clothing and the campaign has donated over 11 million items to over 46 countries .
Secondly, the expansion of UNIQLO All Product recycling to overseas is a clear sign of success that the company has had with the previous project. The company reported that, from September of 2014, those people who have bought items in stores located in UK, USA, and France would have a chance to return them with the same condition of cloth being clean and unmarked. While this initiative may be seen as a competition strategy with other firms that have launched environmentally greener materials for their clothing, the benefits gained by those in need of clothing is no less.
The other aspect that provides a success angle in the UNIQLO campaign is the consistency it has had in following up its vision of making the world a better place. Refugees and other needy people that receive donations of clothing from UNIQLO are usually desperate and they view the world negatively. They are not homeless but without clothes because, usually, they escape wars without a chance to carry clothes. Inadequacies of camps, together with the lack of clothes make them vulnerable to diseases because of cold. Lack of clothes denies such people dignity, comfort, warmth, and confidence. Children are not motivated to go to school when without good clothes.
The campaign has been perceptive of this phenomenon and has sought to give the much it can. The company would have chosen to recycle the materials and come up with new product or use it as fuel and creates profits . Instead, it has dedicated these collected clothes to the needy people. The success can be traced in the maintenance of the program and the growth it has achieved since then. In 2013, the campaign was able to send donations to over 21 countries of the world with the least donation being 16000 items and the largest being 642000 items . Millions of people benefited from the campaign in 2013 alone.
The UNIQLOs success factors
The success of UNIQLOs Recycling campaign can be attributed to a number of factors. For one, UNIQLOs globalization of its business operation has had a great advantage to the campaign. The company enjoys economies of scales through operation of stores in various countries meaning that it sells large volumes of outfits to customers all other the world. Similarly, the company has opted to collect the clothes from all its stores. The many clothes bought are later returned at the stores in large volumes.
Secondly, the nature of the campaign they run qualifies to be a success factor. Most people around the world are usually touched by the misfortunes of the refugees and other needy people but do not have means to help them. UNIQLOs campaign provides an opportunity for such people to contribute and help such people. Additionally, the help requested by the campaign is inexpensive; people donate to the store those clothes that they no longer use or are willing to give out. Combination of the willing to help of the general public and the cheap nature of their donation lead to high volumes of donations from UNIQLOs customers .
Finally, strategic partnership with the other organizations makes the project even more successful. In collection of the donations, UNIQLO partners with GU, a sister-company under FR. Together, they harness the process of collecting clothes donated by their customers. They receive and sort clothes for different destinations. On the other end, it would become difficult for UNIQLO and GU to know where the clothes are needed most and deliver them there. Distributing the clothes among the people would still be a challenge. It, therefore, collaborates with UNHCR and other NGOs that provide humanitarian assistance to refugees and other needy people. The partnership at both collection and distribution has contributed significantly to the success of UNIQLO Recycling campaign.
Relationship of the campaign to Design and social responsibility
It is notable that UNIQLO receives only those clothes that are part of its portfolio. It is one of the criteria that UNIQLO campaign can only accept items that are in their stores. This means that designs that are produced by the company are the ones accepted back. Such designs and styles include cashmere sweater, different colored polo T-shirts, winter jackets, and jeans. UNIQLO campaign donates these clothes to the needy people. It, therefore means, although it is in the form of charity to the refugees, the designs of UNIQLO Company gets to reach the remote areas of the world. UNIQLOs designs get to be known by the rich who afford to buy them and return them and by the poor refugees who get them in the form of donations.
The social responsibility aspect of the UNIQLO recycle campaign is two-fold. First, the campaign is charity program that provide assistant to the poor and refugees. Clothes are one of the basic needs to the human being sand, therefore, a significant social responsibility on the part of UNIQLO. On the other hand, the campaign is a form of environment preservation. If the clothes are donated back to the stores, they would be burnt and pollute the environment of pose the problem of disposal. Therefore, the campaign can achieve two great social responsibility aspects with its endeavors.
Influence of the campaign on UNIQLO
The UNIQLO recycling campaign has a number of impacts on UNIQLO. It helps increase the reputation of the companys brand all over the world. The people who receive the clothes finally get to know about UNIQLO clothes. It is also notable that during clothes collection campaign, the company publicizes it name because it has to emphasize that the clothes being received are those sold by UNIQLO. Even customers with clothes from many shops are able to familiarize themselves with UNIQLO clothes while picking the ones to donate to the stores. It is also important to highlight that the campaign is costly as it involves effort of a significant number of employees to receive, sort and deliver. It, therefore, has an impact on financial performance .
In conclusion, UNIQLO recycle campaign has been an important initiative to the community, the business, and the needy people who are the beneficiaries of the donations. The community can help the needy and reduce the chances of pollution or disposal problems; the business benefits from the popularity of its products among its customers and the needy people and finally; the refugee and other needy people get their clothing needs met. In the course of the UINIQLO Recycling Campaign, the design and styles of UNIQLO products become popular. The success of the program is mainly attributed to the strategic partnership, the nature of the campaign and the globalized operations of the company. As a result, the company increases its reputation but also spend a significant amount of money.