In the News: Our Look at the Top Recycling Stories Making the Headlines
How many things did you buy online this Christmas? Granted it’s fast, convenient, often cheaper, and there’s usually more choice than on the high street, but have you thought about how much packaging is used in deliveries, particularly the non-recyclable variety?
Asos, the online fashion retailer is the latest company to commit to tackling the problem of excessive and hard-to-recycle packaging by signing up to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.
Much of the packaging the fashion giant uses is recyclable, but certain items like the plastic inner and outer bags the clothing is shipped in, are not usually accepted for recycling by many local authorities. The company said it’s been working hard to reduce plastic use across the business, and this includes using plastic bags that are made from 65% recycled material from 2020.
Asos is just one company that has joined the fight to combat the blight of plastic packaging. Other businesses that have a substantial online arm like John Lewis use reusable packaging when they send out their goods.
Other big names like Zalando, Adidas, and C&A have all signed up to an initiative which aims to develop ‘a circular solution’ to the problem of the plastic bags that are used to send out clothes.
The Fashion For Good initiative
The Fashion For Good initiative was born in response to the increasingly devastating impact of ‘fast fashion’ on the environment. These days, we buy much more clothing, but we only keep it for half as long. When it’s no longer needed or wanted, it ends up in landfill or the incinerator; then we go out and buy more.
Fashion For Good wants to end this destructive cycle. Its mission is to help the fashion industry produce clothes that not only look good, but are good. By this, they mean:
Good Materials: clothes should be made from safe materials that are reusable or recyclable.
Good Economy: circular economy should be created around fashion and it should benefit everyone.
Good Energy: clothing should be made using clean energy.
Good Lives: workers who produce clothing should have safe and healthy living and working conditions.
Rethinking how clothing is made
Fashion for good has an ‘innovation platform’ where it works with innovators, brands, retailers, and investors to develop new technologies to make clothing more sustainable. The focus is on making clothes from more natural materials, inventing sustainable textile reuse/recycling processes, and reducing waste at all levels of the industry.
Fashion for Good is actively working with partners to develop innovations in:
- Raw materials processing
- Dyeing & finishing
- End of life
- Supply chain
The Fashion for Good innovation Platform consists of three programmes it can offer businesses who want to get involved and tackle the problem’s caused by fast fashion and its packaging.
The Fashion for Good-Plug and Play Accelerator provides start-ups with funding and expertise. It’s a 12-week programme that focuses on promoting sustainability and transparency in the fashion industry. Fashion For Good runs the scheme in association with global tech investment company Plug and Play, and each year, 2 groups of 10-15 start-ups are invited to join the programme.
The start-ups are given introductions to brands, retailers, and manufacturers, as well as to further investors. They also have access to the best mentors in the fields of fashion, retail, and sustainability.
The Scaling Programme provides expertise and capital to a business whose innovations have shown real promise and helps them develop them on a far bigger scale.
The Good Fashion Fund provides funding for sustainable clothing production and for innovation in the industry. The current problem in the fashion industry is that clothing production from start to finish has a negative impact both on the environment, and on the people who produce the clothing (who are usually in developing countries.). Innovations in sustainable practices are happening all of the time, but the issue is that there’s usually not enough money to make these viable on a large scale. The Good Fashion Fund aims to address this problem by funding innovation so that sustainable and economically viable solutions can be found.
Clothing manufacturing in countries like India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam is cheap, but it’s also environmentally and socially problematic. The Fund helps clothing manufacturers who operate in these countries to introduce new innovations and technologies to reduce the impact on the environment and on workers. This largely means using safe materials that are reusable or recyclable, using clean energy, and creating safe jobs and healthier places to work for employees.
What kind of innovations get the funds?
Those that are developing alternative materials (especially natural ones) to those made from petroleum.
Companies that have come up with safer and more sustainable ways of treating textiles.
Cutting-edge manufacturing techniques and processes like 3D printing gets the nod.
Retailers who are trying to implement a circular business model, and more sustainable methods of transporting and packaging goods.
Businesses that are innovating in the arena of recycling clothing when it’s no longer wanted or needed by the consumer.
Businesses that are introducing sustainability and accountability practices into their supply chain, for example, being able to track goods all the way through their journey from the initial concept to the end of life.
The fashion industry is huge and it’s one of the industries that has one of the biggest impacts on the environment. But it also has the power to influence people and turn things around. We can help too. If you got clothes for Christmas or vouchers you’re going to use to buy new things, don’t discard the old items. Think before you throw; can you reuse, donate, recycle, or sell your items so that the precious materials and resources aren’t wasted, and maybe someone else gets to benefit?