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According to a study, almost half of the women’s clothing for sale on some of the major online sites is made entirely from new plastics.
Research by the Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) charity looked at 10,000 items sold by Boohoo, Prettylittlething, Missguided and Asos.
He found that on average 49% were polyester, acrylic, nylon and spandex.
RSA said the numbers varied by outlet, with Asos using comparatively less new plastic than others.
The study found that 60% of Boohoo’s women’s clothing and 57% of Boohoo-owned Prettylittlething were made entirely from new plastics.
Missguided had 42% of its items made entirely from new plastics and Asos 36%.
RSA also said the study found that, on average, only 3% of garments containing plastic used recycled plastics – “although that rises to 6% among Asos items.”
Missguided’s head of sourcing and product technology Paul Smith said the company was “proud of the progress it has made” and that all of its branded products are packaged and shipped in 100% plastic. recycled. However, he added: “We agree that there is more to be done.”
The company said it was “committed to ensuring that 10% of our products will use recycled fibers by the end of 2021 and 25% by the end of 2022.”
Asos said the numbers reflected positively, but like the rest of the industry, he recognized that more needs to be done.
The study for the Fast Fashion’s Plastic Problem report, was carried out between May 11 and May 29. Researchers looked at more than 2,500 recently added articles on each website, spread across different product categories.
RSA said plastic uses large amounts of energy and creates environmental damage in its production and could take thousands of years to decompose.
He added that a “throwaway culture” meant “most of this clothing ends up in the landfill.”
“The sheer volume of clothing produced by these websites is shocking – we should see a lot of these items, which sell for bargain prices, like other ephemeral plastics. have a long life in our wardrobes, ”said report co-author Josie Warden.
RSA calls for action to reduce the use of plastic in fashion items.
He wants the government to consider introducing a plastics tax on clothing imported or produced in the UK.
He says websites should offer ways to promote second-hand clothing, “like the Depop and Asos market” and publish numbers on how much plastic they use.
And it encourages consumers to buy less and keep their clothes on for longer, rather than wearing clothes a “handful of times.”
Asos said its prices were not at “throwaway” levels and took issue with the report’s description as a fast fashion retailer.
He stressed that he is posting information on fabrics and their care, including on a new page on his website on how to care for clothes in a more environmentally friendly way.
He said it was encouraging that RSA’s numbers were having a positive impact on it, as switching to more sustainable materials was a key part of its Fashion With Integrity program.
However, he said that like the rest of the industry, he recognizes that there is a lot more work to be done and that he is continually reviewing and developing programs to minimize his impact on people and the planet.
Boohoo has published a Ready for the Future strategy that sets an “ambitious” goal of recycling or sustainability of all polyester and cotton by 2025.
However, the RSA report said the company had a “mountain to climb” to achieve this goal.
Boohoo has been approached for comment.