Sheridan sets ambitious sustainability goals

Australian textiles brand Sheridan has just announced its sustainability goals off the back of a national campaign called “Make Tomorrow Beautiful”, which focuses on promoting the business’s environmental and social measures.

By 2020, Sheridan’s product range will include more sustainable fibres and more responsible production processes. By 2025, 100 per cent of Sheridan’s consumer packaging will be reusable or recyclable and every new product will be designed to consider end-of-life. 

“Sheridan is taking action and proudly playing our part in order to make a real difference. We’re actively working towards reducing the environmental impact in everything we do – from our raw material and manufacturing process choices to how we package our products,” said Sheridan’s group general manager, Paul Gould, in a statement. 

“We recognise that sustainability is a journey, and every day we challenge ourselves to find better, more sustainable ways of working.”

According to a statement from Sheridan, the brand has diverted over 40 tonnes of textiles from landfill and in terms of packaging, 10 tonnes of cardboard have been eliminated by the business over the past 12 months.

Rolling out the pre-loved

In February this year, Sheridan introduced an in-store recycling program, where customers could drop off old towels, quilt covers and sheets which would then be taken to the brand’s reprocessing partner. From there, Sheridan’s waste contributes to the output of quality wearable yarns, which are suitable for other textile products in the future. The program will be rolled out to all Sheridan stores by August and in September, a tea towel made from recycled yarns will be offered in stores.

Since the recycling initiative first kicked off, Sheridan has over 3150kgs of pre-loved bedlinen and towels have been donated by consumers.

“It was really important for us to create a program that was practical, accessible and effective – accessibility is especially important in influencing changes in habit,” said the general manager of innovation, Jo Ross.

“When we first launched the initiative, we had no way to gauge what the response would be. Our only option was to set up the trial and communicate with passion. The results have been amazing with significantly higher rates of collection than we could have hoped for.”

Ross says that over the past few years, consumers have been more curious about how and where their textiles have been produced.

“Information is power and as a business we aim to learn and add value through communicating with our customers. Sheridan is also an international brand, so our customers are exposed to initiatives and challenges in other regions and product segments, like apparel. It is natural that these demands also extend to home product, even if a little more slowly than other areas,” she said.

“It is worth noting that the food industry continues to be very influential too, so trends and changes seen there are bound to ripple out to other parts of people’s lives.”

Partnerships are key

Sheridan has worked with strategic supply partners and taken on sustainability activities for some time. According to Ross, the business has long championed and monitored better water usage and waste management, while their own partners are moving towards taking on improved environmental and social initiatives. 

“Collaborations and partnerships are key to businesses making progress in the sustainability space, particularly when it comes to packaging. The collective effort of businesses means brands are able to access viable waste solutions or responsibly sourced materials,” she said.

“One of our most important associations is with Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO). As a member, we are committing to being accountable for how we reduce and improve our packaging solutions – our progress is audited and reported. We also have access to their guidance, in terms of most effective solutions for our product, and can share the learned experiences of other members.

“As a part of a suite of solutions for packaging disposal, we have now formally partnered with Redcycle. This ensures we are able to communicate and offer a practical solution in terms of usable and effective waste streams for the soft plastics that remain in the business. This, combined with our adoption of Planet Ark’s Australasian Recycling Labels, helps the customer be informed, and better respond on that daily waste management journey,” Ross said.

Since launching the sustainability goals in the business, one of the insights the brand has realised is that it takes time to make change and working towards those aims is a journey.

“It is easy to become overwhelmed, so it pays to understand that you can’t change everything effectively in one pass. Work out the baselines and see where targeted efforts can have the most impact, with minimal disruption. The bulk carton ply-reduction exercise that Sheridan undertook is a great example of this. Some big wins will go completely unseen by most,” Ross said.

“Striving for better quality often leads to more sustainable choices by default. In focusing on high-performing premium raw materials, Sheridan has a foundation of product that performs and lasts longer. Longevity is an important consideration in a suite of more responsible options. As a brand, we realised that we had a number of legacy developments and materials that represented a current-day checklist of sustainable considerations,” Ross said.

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