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Two new approaches to sustainable retail: Patagonia and Decathlon

Image courtesy of Patagonia/Makers Unite

Today we’re highlighting two new approaches that brands are taking to make retail more sustainable. Decathlon has launched a new rentals service, while Patagonia is focusing on repairs. 

Decathlon: rentals

Decathlon is launching a rental service for large sports equipment such as kayaks, paddle boards and e-bikes in a move that it says will both make sports more accessible and make equipment use more sustainable. 

The sports equipment retailer is initially launching the service at four branches – London’s Surrey Quays, Southampton, Poole and Glasgow Braehead. Rentals are charged by 24-hour days. For example the first 24 hour hire of a kayak costs £30, the second day £15 and subsequent days £10. 

Sharon Poulter, rental lead for Decathlon, says: “This is a really exciting development in our work to become a more sustainable business, all the while boosting the accessibility of sports. Our mission is to make sports more accessible to the many, and offering rental services is definitely the most environmentally-friendly way to do so. All of our rental products are refurbished or ‘like new’, creating a genuinely circular economy.

“As part of the service, we will be providing package deals, so that customers can rent everything they need for a weekend full of adventure, including e-bike and SUP or kayak combinations at a reduced price. I look forward to growing this proposition, giving more and more people the opportunity to explore new sports.”

Decathlon, founded in Lille, France in 1976, sells across channels in the UK, including through 49 shops, a website and a mobile app. It is ranked Top150 in RXUK Top500 research

Patagonia: repairs 

Patagonia has opened a repair centre in Amsterdam in partnership with social impact company Makers Unite in order to make it easier for brands to make repair and reuse part of there business model. 

The outdoor clothing brand is initially joined by Dutch clothing brand Scotch & Soda in using the United Repair Centre. When customers buy a product from a brand that uses the centre and finds that it need a repair, they contact the brand which sends the product on to the repair centre for repair and return to the customer. 

Willem Swager, director of finance and operations EMEA at Patagonia, says, “Structural change is needed in the textile industry. That’s why Patagonia is calling on brands to not only look at more sales, but also to stimulate reuse and longer wear of clothing through repair and recycling. It needs to become normal for more clothing brands to offer this as a service and see it as business as usual.”

Patagonia says that Europeans have bought an average of 40% more clothing in the last 20 years, compared to previously. Today the textile industry is responsible for 10% of CO2 emissions and Patagonia says that if this level of growth continues, by 2030 global water use (79bn m3 per year), CO2 emissions (1.7bn tons per year) and waste production (92b kg per year) will have increased by more than 50% since 2015 and will double before 2050. It says that if repair extends the useful life of a garment for nine months longer, it reduces the CO2 emissions of that product by 27%, water consumption by 33% and waste by 22%.

The United Repair Centre Academy is to launch in September and aims to train at least 300 students who have challenges finding employment. 

Thami Schweichler, managing director and co-founder of Makers Unite, says: “The apparel industry is at the beginning of a new era, where repairs and other new services will make more impact. We are addressing the apparel industry now, because something desperately needs to be done. For us, it’s a unique opportunity to create valuable jobs and we feel it makes sense to do this with people who are currently struggling to get a job.”

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