From Zara to Lush, the supermarkets and shops with recycling incentives

A number of high street stores are offering recycling initiatives for shoppers [Photo: Getty]
A number of high street stores are offering recycling initiatives for shoppers [Photo: Getty]

Next time you hit the high street for holiday clobber or to update your already-brimming make-up bag, you might want to bring along a bag of old cast-offs.

According to WRAP UK, the value of used clothing has been estimated at around £30 billion with approximately £140 million worth of garments going to landfill each year.

While the beauty industry is responsible for generating over 142 billion units of packaging every year, that’s a lot of plastic for the sake of a ‘shelfie’.

In a bid to cut down on waste, leading fashion and beauty brands have introduced in-store recycling initiatives to help shoppers reduce their carbon footprint.

From Zara to MAC Cosmetics, these are the shops which are here to help you make a difference.

Fashion brands


H&M launched a garment recycling scheme back in 2013 with the aim to donate, reuse or recycle all items gifted by shoppers.

The initiative is available in H&M stores worldwide and the high street chain accepts clothing from any brand.

Simply drop off a bags-worth of clothes and you’ll be gifted a £5 voucher to spend in-store or online.

Learn more about the H&M Garment Collecting scheme.


As part of Zara’s ‘Join Life’ initiative, the high street giant offers customers the chance to recycle any unwanted clothing, household linen, footwear, accessories and jewellery, in selected stores across the UK.

They don’t even need to have been purchased from the Spanish retailer, as Zara will either gift the items as second-hand, recycle them into new fibres and materials or transform them into other textiles such as cloths.

Learn more about the Zara ‘Join Life’ scheme.

READ MORE: The best vegan beauty brands to shop in the UK

Marks and Spencer

In 2008, Marks and Spencer teamed up with Oxfam to introduce a revolutionary recycling initiative called ‘Shwopping’.

All shoppers have to do is return old clothes (they don’t even have to be from M&S) in one of the in-store Shwop boxes and you’ll receive a £5 voucher.

Since launching, the scheme has help to raise £16 million for charity with over 20 million items returned in-store.

Absolutely nothing goes to landfill as all items are either resold by Oxfam or is recycled to create new materials which can be used for anything - such as mattress filling.

Learn more about the Marks and Spencer ‘Shwopping’ scheme.


Levi’s has long prided itself in recycling old jeans and now, you can return any clothes and shoes that you no longer wear into the Progress with Less box at your local store.

The brand will take all items regardless of condition - even non-Levi’s garments. In return, you’ll receive 10% off your next purchase.

Learn more about the Levi’s partnership with I:Collect.

Beauty brands

& Other Stories

The Scandi powerhouse is well-versed in the art of recycling and offers customers two programmes - one for beauty junkies and one for fashion devotees.

If you take your old beauty bottles - this includes make-up, bath and body and skincare ranges - to your local store and you will receive a 10% recycling voucher.

While the brand’s textile recycling program works in a similar manner. Simply fill a bag with any used garments, socks or towels you have purchased there and they will be recycled, upcycled or given as second-hand clothing. Again, you will be gifted a 10% voucher in return.

Learn more about the & Other Stories recycling initiative.


Make-up hoarders, rejoice!

If you return six MAC primarily packaging containers to a counter near you (that’s lipstick tubes, compact cases and foundation bottles), you will receive a free lipstick of your choice.

Learn more about MAC’s recycling initiative.

READ MORE: The beauty brands now offering make-up for men


Lush prides itself on using sustainable packaging and if you return five of the brand’s recycled black pots (make sure they’re clean), you’ll receive a free face mask.

Just look out for the label which tells you which items can be returned.

Learn more about Lush’s recycled black pots.

Supermarket chains


Back in May 2018, Iceland was one of the first supermarkets to trial reverse vending machines at five branches.

In a bid to encourage recycling, shoppers were given a 10p voucher for every plastic bottle deposited.

More than 311, 500 plastic bottles were recycled between May and June with customers earning over £30,000.

Due to its success, the scheme has been rolled out for a further six months.


Ocado shoppers can make up to £5 by returning plastic bags. The online supermarket pays customers 5p for every plastic bag they return - and accepts up to 99 bags in one go. It’s not just Ocado bags accepted, either.