Marks and Spencer is to transform two million old plastic bottle a year, turning them into clothes labels.
The move comes as part of the clothes chain's plans to become the most sustainable sustainable major retailer by 2015. More than 300 million labels a year will be produced under the new scheme, which will cover two-thirds of M&S's annual use labels with washing and care instructions.
Virgin polymer is set to be replaced in the production process, meaning the polyester care labels will be made from recycled PET1 drink bottles instead. M&S revealed to Business Green that it was yet to calculate how much energy or carbon dioxide the measures will save.
The bottles will be collected from suppliers around Europe and East Asia before being granulated and washed at waste processing plants. They will then be melted and turned into yarn which will be done by forcing the liquid through a shaped die, the yarn will then be woven into a care label before being printed.
M&S recently committed to Oxfam's clothes exchange programme, which rewards customers who donate their clothes to Oxfam stores. The custom labels will carry a "Recycle with Oxfam" message in an effort to encourage customers to donate their old clothes, those that do so will be rewarded with discount vouchers.
Gordon Henman, General Merchandise Packaging Technical Manager at M&S told Retail Gazette: "This is a fantastic example of how a small step can make a big difference. Using an environmentally friendly material to make a 4cm x 2cm care label makes a big impact when you multiply it by 300 million."