Workwear in the rental service reduces CO2 emissions by up to 76 per cent

Climate analysis confirms: workwear in the rental service reduces CO2 emissions.

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31 May 2021

Duisburg, 31 May 2021 – Workwear offered as part of a rental service contributes to reducing CO2 emissions through the advantages of the circular economy – that is the result of the Circular Advantage Study conducted by the CWS Group together with the consultancy firm sustainable thinking in 2020. On average, the rental service on its own reduces the greenhouse gas emissions generated by around 76 per cent.[1] If the service transport is also taken into consideration, the emissions are practically halved compared with a bought product. The reason for this is the repair and recycling of old garments in the scope of the circular economy taking quality standards into consideration. The reference value is the greenhouse gas emissions measured based on the clothing requirements of one person over a period of one year.


CO2 emissions can be halved from 72 kilograms to 36 kilograms per year

“Normally, around 72 kilograms of carbon dioxide are generated per year and worker,” said Tobias Steffen, who is responsible for the project as CWS Sustainability Manager. “By offering our workwear on a rental basis, repairing worn or broken items or replacing them with second-hand garments, we reduce these greenhouse gas emissions to just 17 kilograms of CO2 emissions without transport. If you factor in transport using CWS vehicles, the CO2 emissions are still halved from 72 to 36 kilograms. That is remarkable and an advantage of the service model.” The calculation model developed is based on data for repairs, wear and reuse for four different CWS Group collections. These were analysed in terms of the processing in CWS’ German laundries in 2019. That corresponds to a processing volume of around 500,000 items.

The greatest environmental advantage comes from repairs. In Germany alone, more than 2.3 million items of workwear were repaired in CWS’ laundries in 2019 instead of being retired. This represents a big difference from the linear purchase system. “We know that only a few buyers repair defective clothing. Compared to the rental service, only about half of the necessary repairs are carried out. What isn’t repaired at home simply ends up in the bin,” added Mr Steffen.

The product’s useful service life in particular has a significant effect on the climate impact: the more used goods are repurposed and the more they are repaired, the longer the clothing can be used and the fewer new clothes have to be produced. And, of course, every part that does not need to be manufactured does not cause extra greenhouse gas emissions.


Design of the Circular Advantage Study

The Circular Advantage Study examined the climate impact of providing workwear to a worker in Germany for one year with and without a rental service. A climate analysis was performed especially for this purpose and the impact calculated. In the scope of the analysis, four selected CWS collections[2] were considered in the context of a circular system (rental) and a linear system (buying and the wearer washes and repairs the clothing at home (personal contribution)) with regard to their specific data for repairs, replacement and recycling. The study also assumed that each garment was washed 46 times irrespectively of the system tested. The impacts of product quality and washing performance on the environmental factors were ignored in order to guarantee comparability.

Would you like to know more about the study? Please send an e-mail to to receive additional background information.



About CWS

CWS contributes to a healthier and safer future with innovative, sustainable and digital rental solutions. The CWS offering is organised into products and services from the fields of Hygiene, Floor Care, Workwear, Fire Safety, Cleanrooms and Healthcare.

CWS is a brand of CWS International GmbH and its subsidiaries. The Group currently employs around 11,000 people in 15 countries. In 2020, the company generated a turnover of € 1,242 billion. CWS International GmbH and its subsidiaries are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Franz Haniel & Cie. GmbH.


[1] All values referring to greenhouse gas emissions are per worker per year in Germany.

[2] One Bluewear collection, one Industry collection, one Catering & Service collection and one PPE collection from the high-visibility range.


Laura Plischke

CWS International GmbH

Dreieich Plaza 1A