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Uniqlo to recycle old down jackets and plastic bottles with Toray

Clothing chain's Japan stores to serve as collection points

A Uniqlo store in New York: The apparel brand will sell clothes made from recycled materials starting next year.   © Reuters

LONDON -- Uniqlo apparel chain operator Fast Retailing will partner with materials maker Toray Industries to turn used down jackets and plastic bottles into new clothes, which will go on sale in 2020.

The CEOs of both Japanese companies -- Fast Retailing's Tadashi Yanai and Akihiro Nikkaku of Toray -- announced the recycling program in London on Monday.

Their initiative comes amid a growing international movement to reduce waste, from drinking straws to shopping bags.

"Earth as a whole is facing a crisis, and without Earth we can't do business," Yanai said. "We want to contribute to the sustainability of our society through clothes."

Uniqlo apparel stores across Japan will start collecting old down jackets this month. Recycling these jackets used to be a complicated process done by hand, but new technology from Toray has made it more efficient.

Plastic bottles also will be collected and turned into a fast-drying fabric, designated for use in T-shirts and other clothing.

Uniqlo is taking other steps to reduce waste, such as phasing out plastic bags and using less water to stone wash denim.

Uniqlo and Toray have worked together for over 15 years on some of the clothing retailer's most recognized products, including Ultra Light Down jackets and vests and Heattech underwear.

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