Le Relais

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The Organisation

Le Relais are a leader in textile recycling in France dealing with approximately 55% of the total recycling collection in France. They are also a social enterprise helping to get marginalised individuals into employment and provide them with new skills around sustainability. They focus on the ‘fight against causes of exclusion, help people preserve their dignity, regain their financial autonomy and their place in society’.


The Challenge

Although most of the textiles Le Relais collect are recycled, a small percentage are sent to incineration, therefore Le Relais wanted to examine their recycling process and to identify alternative pathways for waste currently going to incineration. 

Skills Sought

  • Ability to summarise and analyse data
  • Report writing
  • Ability to work independently

The Solution

Two undergraduate students from Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC), carried out a two week placement with the French company ‘Le Relais’. Business development managers in LEC and Paris Region Enterprises introduced Geography students Katie Fair and Rose Ashbourn to Jean-Francois Luthun the CEO of Le Relais. The business development managers helped develop the project, and supported the company and both Katie and Rose, whilst they carried out student placements.

The students visited the company at the beginning of the two week placement and carried out an assessment of the recycling facilities. Back in the UK the students compiled a report identifying a number of recycling streams not currently included in the company’s recycling process, and carried out research into alternative means of reusing items. 


This transnational student placement was supported through KARIM.  KARIM, the Knowledge Acceleration and Responsible Innovation Meta-network, is a project funded by the European Union. The aim of this project was to build a network for SME’s, University partners and other 'innovation actors' across NW Europe and by so doing to help boost the competitiveness of innovative SME’s in this region.


The report made a number of recommendations and identified a number of companies that are interested in working with Le Relais in reducing the waste taken to incineration. This has a double impact for the company, helping them to reduce the financial outlay needed to incinerate waste and enabling them to achieve the company’s goal of creating sustainable jobs. 


To the Company

  • Reduced the financial outlay of incinerating waste
  • Enabled company to achieve goal of creating sustainable jobs

To the Students

  • Gained an insight into a commercial business
  • Networking with stakeholders
  • Development of skills in a business environment
  • Gained experience of collaborative working