Brands Using Take-Back Schemes To Recycle Waste

As we celebrate Global Recycling Day, here are the brands with the best take-back schemes to help you reduce waste going to landfill.

The three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – are the words to live by if you’re looking to minimise your impact on the planet, and yes, in that order. Producing less waste should always be the number one goal, whether you’re a brand or consumer, and recycling should always be your ‘last resort’ because it is very resource-intensive and in most cases (with the exception of nylon and a few other materials) downgrades the virgin material. 

When looking to recycle your old and ripped denim, your tights that have the longest ladder you’ve ever seen or if you want to avoid your empty crisp packet ending up in the sea, here are some of the brands offering recycling and take-back schemes to help divert waste from landfill.


For sustainable denim brand MUD Jeans, the starting point of design is recycling, so if you have any old denim (no matter how ripped) this is where you should send it! As long as your jeans are 96% cotton MUD will take them and send them to their factories in Spain or Italy where they are shredded and mixed with new organic cotton. In return you will get  €10 voucher off your new pair or a monthly discount on their renting program.

Swedish Stockings want to clean up the hosiery industry and your old tights can help them to do that! Collect three or more pairs of old (even ripped) stockings that you may have lying around – these can be from any brand of nylon hosiery – to be recycled and you will get 10% off a new pair. 

Chinese and Hong-Kong based readers, this one’s for you! Lane Crawford began recycling plastic hangers, plastic covers, paper and cardboard three years ago and in 2018 collected close to 75.7 tonnes of material for recycling.  Today, on Global Recycling Day, they have launched a take-back program with which you can return all of the packaging your product gets sent out with, as well as pre-loved personal electronic goods.

Image credit: MUD Jeans


Cruelty-free beauty brand Lush offers an in-house recycling scheme of its black pots. The brand is already working towards zero waste packaging, by either avoiding plastic all-together and selling ‘naked’ soap bars or by making recyclable packaging from aluminum. Most of its liquid products are still sold in plastic pots that you can now take back. When you return the pots they ride back to Dorset in the same trucks which deliver new products to stores, and are recycled in the Green Hub (Lush’s in-house recycling centre). 

Similarly, Kiehl‘s has a recycling program that allows you to return all of its packaging back to the store. It has also set up a handy rewards system that allows you to choose a free travel product once you have brought back 10 containers.  


It’s no secret that at Eco-Age we’re big fans of both Abel & Cole and Oddbox – the first delivers seasonal and organic produce to your doorstep and the second rescues wonky fruit & veg from going to landfill because they’re not perfect enough for supermarkets, but we don’t discriminate… Both companies deliver produce in recycled carton boxes and and take them back on their next delivery if you leave them outside your door. 

In January, Marks & Spencer launched a take-back scheme that helps turn ready meal trays that are usually not recyclable by your local council into playground equipment, store fittings and furniture. M&S accepts all packaging, including from rival supermarkets, as it aims to divert as much plastic as possible from landfill. 

Walker’s Crisps is probably one of the most popular British brands, but its packaging is sadly not yet recyclable in conventional facilities. Although the brand is aiming to have 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packaging by 2025. For now, it has partnered with TerraCycle on a recycling scheme that allows you to drop-off your used crisp packets at public drop-off locations across the UK and Ireland and earn reward points, which help raise money for local good causes. The crisp packets are cleaned, shredded and turned into plastic pellets, which are then transformed into park benches, plant pots, watering cans and cool bags.

M*lkman is a London-based producer of plant-based milks that delivers hand-made nut milks in glass bottle to your door. Just like the milkman in the old days… but completely cruelty-free! Simply leave your empty glass bottle in front of your door to be collected at your next delivery. P.S. they also deliver turmeric cashew milk straight to your door – just saying.

Image credit: M*lkman


At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics the gold, silver and bronze medals will be made by extracting precious metals from electronic waste such as discarded smartphones. The Organising Committee will manufacture approximately 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and are aiming for 100% recycled content through a collection project launched across Japan in April 2017. So, if you’re based in Japan start gathering up all your old smartphones!

Want to know more about the future of packaging? Read more here.

If you’re looking to help reduce waste, see 8 zero waste swaps for families and 5 everyday refillable swaps.