Almost half of the items for sale on the sites of UK fast-fashion companies including Asos and Boohoo were made entirely from new–as opposed to recycled–plastic-based substances, according to another study.
The amount rises to 80percent when studying the share of clothing containing a number of virgin plastic fibers, that are often combined with other materials such as wool or cotton.
The study (pdf), which studied over 10,000 articles of clothes, comes in the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, or RSA, a London-based organization that seeks answers to social difficulties. It stated in the report it has been researching fast fashion’s impact, a subject that has attracted increasing scrutiny as comprehension of this industry’s enormous influence on the surroundings continues to increase.
Synthetic fibers like polyester–a staple of the industry whose rising volume is frequently raised as a cause for concern–are essentially a sort of plastic. They are normally cheap and can–however don’t always–offer some performance benefits, such as stretch or durability, which is the reason why they have become so prominent in clothing. Other hot synthetics include acrylic, nylon, and polyamide.
But they are made from fossil fuels, making them reliant on a carbon-spewing industry. They do not biodegrade, and they shed microfibers which are polluting the world’s oceans and even the atmosphere . One recent study from the Nature Conservancy in partnership with Bain & Company warned that simply producing synthetic substances creates microfiber contamination. For approximately every 500 t-shirts made from synthetics, one t-shirt’s worth of fibers (pdf) is dropped into the environment, ” it reasoned. The dilemma of microfiber contamination has made synthetics even more suspect to sustainability advocates, though organic fibers take their own significant environmental footprint.
New polyester vs recycled
Over the span of a couple weeks in May, RSA looked specifically at women’s clothing on the sites of Asos, Missguided, Boohoo, and PrettyLittleThing, which Boohoo owns. The firms are known for their hyper-fast production and reduced expenses. It took a balance of items across different product types and assumed some other fabrics not tagged as recycled were created from virgin materials. The clothing was”awash” in new synthetics, the report stated.
The finding also indicates the companies have been slow to adopt recycled fibers, that the RSA suggested contradicts their sustainability promises.
In announcements into the BBC, the companies said they feel they’ve made progress on those issues but recognize more work needs to be done. Missguided pointed to its commitment of ensuring 10percent of its products use recycled fibers at the end of the year and 25percent by the end of 2022. Boohoo plans (pdf) to make all of its polyeste