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How Unsustainable Clothing Returns Impact the Planet

08 September 2023

In the fast-paced world of e-commerce, clothing returns are an inevitable part of the business. While they present challenges, they also offer opportunities for innovation and profitability. TakeOff has taken a unique approach to handle returned clothing items, turning potential losses into gains. In this blog post, we’ll explore the world of e-commerce clothing returns, delve into the challenges they pose, and shed light on how TakeOff refurbishes these items to make them saleable again by off-price brands.

Understanding the E-commerce Clothing Returns Challenge

E-commerce clothing returns are a common occurrence, driven by factors such as sizing issues, colour discrepancies, or buyer’s regret. While returns are part and parcel of online shopping, they can be a significant headache for e-commerce businesses. The returned items often arrive in less-than-optimal conditions for resale, posing several challenges:


  1. Quality control – do the clothes have any damages?
  2. Logistical Complexity – will we have logistical hurdles, such as inventory management, return shipping costs, and restocking procedures?
  3. Revenue Loss – will we be able to resell all the returned items?
  4. Environmental impact – how many of these items will end up in a landfill?


Did you know that the fashion industry is the second most polluting sector after the oil industry? The fashion industry is estimated to be responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions and product returns are just aggravating this problem. 


At Take Off, we have made a commitment to reduce these figures and foster a sustainable, circular economy by implementing digitalization and innovative approaches in our operations. Our mission is to make the fashion sector more sustainable and redistribute every clothing item produced and left unsold in the warehouses by achieving a B2B wholesale. We’ve taken significant steps to align our logistics operations with sustainability goals, particularly in our quality check and repackaging processes. Here’s how our practices contribute to a greener fashion ecosystem:


Minimizing Returns and Waste

Quality checks are not just about meeting customer expectations; they also contribute significantly to the longevity of our garments. When we identify missing or damaged components during the quality check process, our logistics department takes action to repair or fix them. For instance, if a price tag is missing, it is promptly replaced. This attention to detail means that more clothing items can be sold without ultimately ending up in landfills.


Giving out-of-season clothes a second chance

In a sustainable fashion ecosystem, every aspect of the product’s journey matters, we purchase in bulk directly from the brand, which plays a vital role in our sustainability values. Brands are responsible for sorting the items based on whether they are returns or unsold clothing from physical stores but most of these items don’t get resold. At TakeOFF we purchase items that have not been sold and have the fashion stock ready available to sell to outlets discounted designer brands at an affordable price. Again, this reduces the probability of clothing being dumped in landfill sites. 


Eco-Conscious Repackaging and Carbon Footprint Reduction

While we strive to minimize plastic and paper usage in our repackaging process, we try to use as little plastic and paper as possible. Nevertheless, reduced returns inherently contribute to a lower carbon footprint, less transportation and minimized packaging waste mean fewer emissions. If you think about all the returns and exchanges company’s make on a day-to-day basis, the amount of waste being spent in returning an item and having to reship it is immensely unsustainable. Additionally, partnering with brands for streamlined returns and repackaging reduces unnecessary transportation, especially since we are dealing with shipments in bulk.


At TakeOff, our commitment to pioneering sustainability in fashion logistics drives our every move. We believe that the path to a brighter, eco-conscious future lies in the choices we make today. The staggering volume of returns in the retail industry calls for the urgent need for sustainable solutions. The fashion industry, in particular, faces many challenges caused from returns, excessive packaging, and inefficient distribution. These challenges can result in significant economic and environmental consequences.