How Retailers Can Recycle Products Without Devaluing Their Brand: Debranding

Creating a brand that people trust is no easy feat. Protecting that brand is even harder. That’s why so many retailers are apprehensive about things like textile recycling and donating their unsold goods to secondhand shops.

Conversely, traditional disposal methods are coming under public scrutiny. Plus, with the mounting problem of overflowing landfills and climate change front of mind, it’s clear the usual disposal methods aren’t sustainable — literally.

Whether you sell clothes, beauty products, or candles, it’s important to be cautious with how you dispose of your unsold or damaged merchandise to protect your brand. This is where debranding comes into play.

The Disposal Conundrum

Most retailers either toss out their unused merchandise or incinerate it to help maintain their brand’s value. Luxury brands spend a lot of time making their products exclusive, and if they just donated unsold goods, they’d risk devaluing their brand.

Even fast-fashion and budget-friendly brands don’t want large amounts of their products going to secondhand shops or recycling bins because it’s a signal to the public that their brand and products are undesirable.

Of course, that’s not the case. The reality is that retail and fashion are fast and getting faster every day. Clothing seasons are getting shorter, consumer preferences change rapidly, and frankly, especially with today’s supply chain issues, it’s more cost-effective to order more from the manufacturer now and deal with excess inventory than it is to underorder.

Simply tossing out or burning your merchandise doesn’t bode well for your brand either, though.

Brands like Amazon, Burberry, Nike, H&M, Urban Outfitters, Michael Kors, Eddie Bauer, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and more have all come under fire in recent years for their textile disposal practices.

There’s also the issue of social media, like the common TikTok trend of shaming corporations for destroying their unused products and the permanently trending hashtags like #RetailMadeMeDoIt, which illustrate that the general public isn’t okay with these practices (especially younger generations like Gen Z).

What should a brand do when both options seem to result in damaging the brand? Debranding is the answer.

The Benefits of Debranding

Debranding is simply the process of removing your company’s brand and any identifying markers from an item before donating, recycling, or disposing, and it offers several benefits to retailers.

  • Protect Your Brand’s Value: By removing the label(s) from your items, you can participate in things like textile recycling and donating without worrying about how that might affect consumer opinion.
  • Protect Your Brand’s Public Image: By debranding, you can show the public that your company contributes to the circular economy and practices sustainability, saving you from a public relations nightmare.
  • Improve ESG Scores: With debranding, you can safely pursue more sustainable practices, like donation and secondhand recycling. Then, you can report these initiatives to improve your overall ESG score.
  • Decrease Your Footprint: By eliminating unsustainable practices and replacing them with sustainable ones, your company will be doing its part to contribute to a healthier, happier planet.
  • Increase Your Disposal Options: When your brand isn’t in jeopardy, your options for disposal open up. By removing your company’s brand from your merchandise, you can find (and mix-and-match) the disposal methods that make the most sense for you fiscally and otherwise.

Debranding is a way to protect your brand on all fronts. It allows you to maintain your company’s image while still doing what’s right for the planet.

Getting Started with Debranding

Here at CheckSammy, we’re a technology-backed sustainability services provider with the nationwide coverage you need. We offer everything from debranding and textile recycling to waste assessments and more, so we can craft a custom solution to fit your needs.

When it comes to debranding, we work with vetted partners to source-separate the product to ensure there are no identifying pieces leftover.

Then, we use our logistical capabilities to extend and repurpose the items. We generally focus on re-use and finding a second life for debranded items, but we also offer other solutions like textile recycling.

We offer debranding for:

  • Clothes
  • Textiles
  • Beauty Products
  • Candles
  • Mannequins
  • Hangers
  • Branded In-Store Fixtures
  • And More

If you’d like more information on our debranding services, textile recycling, or other solutions, please contact us today. We’d love to develop a custom solution to meet your needs.

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