Online retailer, Ocado has partnered with HMP Northumberland, ran by Sodexo Just Services and social enterprise Hubbub to recycle old uniforms and employ prisoners to turn them into fashionable aprons and bags.
Amazingly, nearly 33 million corporate garments are worn in the workplace; that’s two in seven people in the UK and 90% of these go to landfill or are incinerated each year.
Ocado’s head of corporate responsibility Suzanne Westlake said: “As a responsible retailer, we wanted to find a better solution to the problem of our unwanted uniforms in order to avoid tem ending up in landfill. This innovative project has turned them into fantastic designer products.”
London fashion brand, Everything in Colour has designed the bags and aprons and profits will go straight to Ocado’s Foundation.
HMP Northumberland already has an engineering workshop where prisoners produce components for manufacturing and has a Red-tractor accredited market garden which provides fruit and vegetables for organisations including Durham University.
Tony Simpson, director of HMP Northumberland outlined the importance of employment within the prison service: “Learning new skills and developing a strong work ethic are known to have a positive impact on reducing re-offending when offenders return into the community.”
Trewin Restorick, founder of Hubbub who was involved in the scheme said: “We hope offices, warehouses, shops and factories throughout the UK will recognise the scale of this environmental problem and see that by treating their old uniforms as a useful resource they can find creative solutions that build not only environmental benefits but social and financial ones too.”