Harry Rosen Teams With TerraCycle to Give Garment Bags a ‘Second Life’

Packaging makes an experiential, tactile impact in luxury retail, but boxes and bags also come with an environmental impact.

In an effort to reduce the footprint of its packaging, Canadian designer menswear multibrand retailer Harry Rosen switched to fully recyclable bags and boxes made of 40 percent post-consumer waste and materials that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. But sustainably transforming its garment bags—which are used for around 30 percent of its online and in-store orders—was more of a challenge.

More from Sourcing Journal

“Other retailers offer garments bags made from recycled materials—an option we explored—but ultimately those bags end up in landfills because they are not recyclable by local municipalities, and it does nothing about the thousands of garment bags many of our customers have sitting in their homes,” Jessica Gale, executive vice president, chief customer officer at Harry Rosen, told Sourcing Journal. “We wanted a solution that ensured no Harry Rosen garment bag ever ends up in a landfill and was positively retroactive.”

To achieve this end, Harry Rosen has launched an internal garment bag recycling program in partnership with TerraCycle, a recycling and reuse solutions provider that specializes in hard-to-recycle materials. According to Harry Rosen, this recycling program for garment bags is the “first-of-its-kind” in North America.

Harry Rosen customers will now pay a $2 Green TerraCycle fee per suit and pant garment bag for their in-store purchases. They can then return the bag to any of the retailer’s full-price stores for recycling to earn 500 points in their Club Harry loyalty program account, worth $5. Encouraging reuse, shoppers will also receive 500 points if they bring their garment bag back to use again at checkout. There is no limit on how many garment bags can be returned, but shoppers will only be eligible for one credit per day and four credits per month.

After collection in store, the nonwoven polypropylene bags will be recycled by TerraCycle. First, the bags’ materials will be separated by type before shredding and processing. Fully synthetic textiles will be combined with other plastics to make plastic blends, while textiles made of fiber blends will become stuffing for new products like pet bedding, mattresses and sports equipment. Finally, the metal zippers will be melted for use in manufacturing.

“Harry Rosen’s recycling program with TerraCycle offers a sustainable solution for the retailer’s used garment bags that didn’t exist before and will help keep these bags out of landfills or incinerators,” Kyle Riggs, North American account director of zero waste at TerraCycle, told Sourcing Journal.

TerraCycle has previously partnered with apparel brands including The North Face to create a recycling solution for low-density polyethylene bags, or polybags, that are typically not recyclable via curbside pickup. The company also powers textile recycling—including a Goldtoe program for used socks and a wetsuit recycling initiative with Rip Curl.

“TerraCycle is known for its expertise in recycling hard-to-recycle materials and finding innovative solutions,” Gale said. “They’ve built complex retail recycling programs in other sectors, making them the perfect partner to tackle garment bag waste.”

Consumers are paying attention to packaging’s environmental profile. In the Buying Green Report 2023 survey from Trivium Packaging, conducted by Euromonitor International, 82 percent of the more than 9,000 global respondents said they would be willing to pay more for sustainable packaging. Additionally, 71 percent reuse packaging such as reusable shopping bags and 82 percent are very likely or likely to buy products with recyclable packaging claims.

“Ultimately, as a brand we wanted to respect the environment and make a positive impact, but beyond that, our vision for more sustainable packaging options is really rooted in meeting our clients’ expectations,” said Gale. “Customers are looking to minimize the environmental impact of their purchases, and we felt it our responsibility to support them in minimizing our communal carbon footprint.”