packaging & shipping
Tags, Label, Hangers, Hang Tags, Polybags, cartons, all contribute to the waste that comes from this industry. So much plastic is still used for packaging.
Need help finding a supplier or getting connected directly at the farm level? Contact Simply Suzette here.
Polybags are the ubiquitous packaging of the fashion industry – something that unites brands small and large, from sportswear to luxury, to fast fashion retailers. This is the clear plastic bag which covers every garment from manufacturing to retail stores or consumer homes. Hundreds of billions of polybags are estimated to be produced for the fashion industry every year. Brands should consider not only the materials used but consider the wider system used with the packaging – for example, how will it be collected and recovered at all points where waste is generated?
Bioplastics are also a new hot topic. Bioplastics are plastic materials produced from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, straw, woodchips, sawdust, recycled food waste, etc. They can be great if they are also biodegradable, meaning that they can be composted. However if there is no system for composting, the effort is useless, the packaging could end up together with normal plastics and be an issue for the recycling process. It can be confusing to understand that some plastics can be biobased but not compostable, therefore we suggest that you check out a useful diagram made by Ecoage in their article explaining this group of materials.
Recycling could be increased thanks to government subsidies, legislation, oil price rise, design for recyclability (narrower range of polymers, no coloured plastics), advances in recycling technology and in sorting (optical recognition etc.). Collaboration and cooperation comes back as being the key to achieve a circular economy.
Your pair of jeans might have travelled more than most people in the world. Cotton could be grown in India, then spun, woven and dyed in Italy, turned into a garment in Vietnam and sold in a shop in the US. It is very rare for one country to have a fully integrated production of garments, so how do we reduce the transportation’s carbon impact?
One thing is undebatable: flights should not be used for clothes. They do not expire like fresh goods, and should not use the transport method with the highest carbon emissions. The issue comes from this system of having new collections coming out too fast, and a split up supply chain, which means that there could be delays at the end, and a pressure to get clothes into shops on time.
What other methods are available? Cargo ships have an exponentially bigger volume than trucks, but they also can transport a lot more volume, which means that the usage of diesel for a cargo ship is divided in between many more items. Shipping the same goods to the Netherlands can have a bigger carbon impact by truck from France than shipping them by ocean freight from South America.