The mobile app Stuffstr may help multinational retailers transfer to the circular economy

Signal of change / The mobile app Stuffstr may help multinational retailers transfer to the circular economy

By George Armour / 02 Feb 2017

Various multinational retailers have recently partnered with Seattle-based app Stuffstr to aid their efforts in promoting and enabling a circular economy. The app provides a simple interface through which users can manage their ‘library’ of possessions and encourages them to donate, repair or give away their disused or unwanted stuff.

Clothing giants such as H&M and The North Face are using the app to help consumers find local clothing donation sites to recycle their old clothes. These sites will accept all fabrics, textiles and brands and will offer store discounts as a reward.

The app is also capable of automatically importing past and future purchases from Amazon in addition to processing online receipts from over 700,000 retailers.

So what?

These new partnerships aim to address two similar problems. The first is the burden of household clutter: Stuffstr founder, John Atcheson, claims that there is more than $7,000 worth of unused stuff sitting in the average American household. The second is the need to deal with textile waste. A recent study has estimated that 85% of textiles in the US end up in the landfill. Multinational retailers are beginning to acknowledge the scale of these problems but are also recognising the opportunities for change.

H&M is one such company with its recent pledge to become 100% circular. By drawing upon the support of new platforms or partners like Stuffstr, it is working to push the development of a circular economy into the mainstream. It aims to increase participation rates in recycling efforts by smoothing the obstacles for everyday consumers and creating new infrastructure and knowledge networks. Their partnership is already bearing fruit as the clothing company claims to have already repurposed more than 36 million kilogrammes of textiles.

Although the idea of recirculating unwanted household goods or textiles is not novel in itself, these major partnerships between multinational retailers and app developers may mark a new development in overcoming barriers to the circular economy, particularly those relating to knowledge, connections and accessibility. As more consumers become aware of such schemes, and as interfaces become more user-friendly, new recycling networks may emerge that could potentially lead to the greater salvaging of consumer goods.


What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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