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Swiss Post clothing gets a second lease of life

Swiss Post purchases socially and environmentally friendly clothing
and recirculates it into after it has served its primary purpose – such as with the “A second lease of life for Swiss Post clothes” project.

André Callegari/Sandra Gonseth

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Melanie Dietisheim und Hans-Peter Hofstetter von «La Trouvaille» entfernen die Postlogos von den ausgedienten Dienstkleidern. Copyright: Andreas von Gunten

Melanie Dietisheim and Hans-Peter Hofstetter from “La Trouvaille” remove the Swiss Post logos from disused work clothing. (Copyright: Andreas von Gunten)

Clothing at Swiss Post is yellow and grey, which is nice and simple. But procuring it is not so easy: “We list 92 models, including over 2,000 sizes, and supply 33,000 employees with 200,000 items of clothing a year”, explains Secil Helg, specialist in responsible procurement

“There are major differences in uniforms: the delivery service has different needs in the mountainous Zermatt area compared to urban Zurich.” T-shirts, shirts and blouses are worn for an average of two years, “but I have come across 20-year old shirts before.”

Only certified is good enough

Swiss Post is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation and only purchases robust, OEKO-TEX® standard 100-certified fabrics. It goes even further and relies on the circular economy in its corporate responsibility strategy: as part of the “Swiss Post clothing gets a second lease of life” project, it sends disused garments off for further use. This involves cooperation with the Swiss Red Cross in the Berne-Mittelland district. Just under 12 tonnes reached the sorting tables at the Swiss Red Cross’s second-hand “La Trouvaille” stores in 2018.

The logo has to go

“We sort out anything bearing the Swiss Post logo”, explains Melanie Dietisheim of “La Trouvaille”. “The items we sell on cannot feature any labels for trademark reasons.” If the logo was sewn on, we remove it here. “La Trouvaille” sells a portion of the goods in its warehouses – at present: cardigans, T-shirts, tank tops, gloves, soft-shell gilets and safety shoes. What we do not sell, or what is unsuitable for sale, goes to Safenwiler Tell-Tex GmbH, which supplies customers nationally and internationally, e.g. Swiss Mountain Aid. “The proceeds go into SRC projects, e.g. caring for deprived families, or services for the sick, elderly and infirm.”

Upcycling creates jobs

“La Trouvaille” works closely with the city of Berne’s competence centre for work. Its clientele include people without an education or income. At “La Trouvaille” they can find work as well as support to help them with their professional and social integration. Another partner is the BEWO cooperative in Emmental, which transforms Swiss Post clothing into drawstring bags and laptop cases. This is known as upcycling and creates employment for disabled people. Only the items which cannot serve any purpose are sent for incineration – and even this is increasingly being fed into heating networks or used to generate electricity. But that’s another story and another cycle.

A second lease of life for Swiss Post clothes

The “A second lease of life for Swiss Post clothes” project is one of the measures Swiss Post undertakes as part of its corporate responsibility. It focuses on five areas of action: besides the circular economy and responsible procurement, these areas cover climate and energy (e.g. increasing CO2 efficiency), employees (e.g. maintaining and promoting employee performance), and corporate citizenship (commitment to the community, e.g. voluntary work for the Swiss Hiking Trail Federation). This is how Swiss Post is acting now for tomorrow.

written by

André Callegari/Sandra Gonseth