As fashion firms strive to build back from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of industry heavyweights are turning their attention to addressing how they pack and protect their products, writes GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Beth Wright, apparel correspondent for GlobalData, says: “The world as we know it is facing an overwhelming problem with regards to packaging, be it from single-use plastic or paper – both of which can have a devastating effect on the environment. What is more, the crisis is being exacerbated by the relentless hunger for fast fashion and the boom in online shopping.
“Fashion firms are beginning to find their feet after being dealt a devastating blow from the pandemic. Those moving to reset from the crisis are looking to prove they mean business when it comes to sustainability; rolling out new strategies and commitments to ‘build back better’. It seems sustainable packaging is en vogue, with pledges to eradicate single-use plastics in particular, proving popular.
“The buck does not end with the product alone and an increasing number of fashion companies are beginning to wise up to this. Sustainability efforts must cover all ends of the supply chain – including how goods are packaged.”
VF Corporation, owner of brands including The North Face, Timberland and Vans, most recently outlined a series of new sustainable packaging goals, among which is a pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic packaging, including polybags, by 2025.
Those piloting alternatives include H&M Group. The Swedish retailer has developed a multi-brand paper packaging system which consists of recyclable bags made of certified paper. In the US, lifestyle brand, Outerknown, has partnered with sustainable and recyclable packaging solutions specialist, Vela, to help eliminate plastic polybags from its global supply network in favour of paper alternatives. While Spanish clothing brand, Mango, is working on a similar project as part of its vow to eliminate the use of about 160 million plastic bags per year in its supply chain.
Meanwhile, environmental not-for-profit Canopy’s Pack4Good initiative continues to gain traction with fashion retailers, Stitch Fix and The Very Group, among the latest 22 companies to commit to the project which works to reduce the toll of the global packaging supply chain on forests.
Wright adds: “A flurry of sustainable packaging pledges throughout the apparel sector coincides with a rise in online shopping on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the focus is welcome, much work remains to be done to tackle the problem.
“Consumers do not want to receive mounds of single-use plastic and/or paper with their fashion items, no matter how much it might protect them on the journey to their homes. Industry players must continue to recognise the impact this part of their supply chain has on the environment – and indeed on their reputation. Even if an item of clothing or footwear has been manufactured in the greenest of manners and with the greenest of materials, all of this hard work will be undermined if a consumer receives products wrapped in copious amounts of single-use plastic.”