Danish sport and lifestyle brand Hummel has launched its first collection made out of recycled material. This is of course nothing new, but Hummel unveiled it with a special campaign. The brand was collecting plastic waste such as bottles and cups during the world tour of US band Black Eyed Peas 2010. That way, they collected enough plastic material to produce 11,500 jerseys. Sportswear International’s Melanie Gropler talked to Christian Nicholas Stadil, owner and chairman of Hummel International, about the new recycling program Hummel will launch in January when men’s handball World Championship 2011 kicks off in Sweden.

Hummel is not the typical provider of sustainable apparel. How come you launch a recycled collection? Is this only green washing or what’s your approach?

We are not green or only kind-hearted, but we need to rethink. The world’s population grows and consumption of plastics is huge. We have seen pictures of the plastic island that is floating between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. It is a large as Central Europe, and weighs three million tons. This was where we wanted to get started and we have a very good partner. We work together with Rethink, a producer of recycled apparel made out of plastic bottles. They were responsible for the whole logistic part and also for the production. We already had implemented several CRS-projects before, and control our production and ensure that social and ecological standards are met.

What does the collection include? And will you continue with recycled products?

The first batch includes 11,500 jerseys that will be hitting the market in January of 2011 when men’s handball World Championship 2011 kicks off in Sweden. The national teams of Poland, Bahrain, Serbia and Australia will be wearing our playing kits of 100% recycled material. The entire collection that will include old school zips and footwear, amongst others, will follow in spring of 2011. This first recycling program should mark only the beginning. Step by step, we want to expand the range, also in terms of fashion.

What about the pricing? Are recycled products more expensive than others?

The process is more expensive in comparison to conventional production. But we will not pass this on to the end consumer. Our prices remain the same and the customer will not be restrained by a higher price to buy our recycled products. With our recycling program, we pursue a long-term strategy. The goal is to compensate the higher costs with more volume and a wide distribution, and not with higher pricing.

The story of hummel takes its beginning in Hamburg in 1923 where the Messmer family started applying the first rubber outsoles to footwear. In 1980 Jørgen Vodsgaard and his business partners become owners of hummel. The company became 100% Danish.