Fashion brands must embrace sustainable packaging, says GlobalData

Brands and retailers need to take a look at the wider supply chain and move beyond the goods to embrace sustainable packaging, warns GlobalData.

While the fashion industry is beginning to embrace the need to operate in a more sustainable manner, their emphasis to date is, more often than not, on the products it produces – footwear and apparel. But packaging is equally important, advises Beth Wright, apparel correspondent at GlobalData. 

“With so much effort spent on manufacturing greener goods in a more sustainable manner, industry players must not neglect the final links in the chain which include how footwear and apparel is packaged,” she advocates.

“All of the hard work that goes into making a more responsible end product will be lost if the first thing the consumer sees is copious amounts of packaging upon opening or receiving their item.”

The problem extends to both plastic and paper packaging, with each playing a part in wreaking havoc on the environment from endangering marine life in the world’s rainforests, to the effects of paper and pulp production on its rainforests, says Wright.

Among the sustainable packaging solutions are initiatives such as British surf brand Finisterre’s new “marine-safe” garment bag, which can be recycled or dissolved at the end of use. Created in collaboration with Aquapak, which develops and manufactures marine-safe and non-toxic hydrophilic polymer resin pellets, the packaging is set to enter the Finisterre supply chain with select knitwear lines this month before a full roll out next February.

Elsewhere, casual footwear brand Skechers USA has recently announced 94 per cent of its shoeboxes and all of its tissue paper and foot-form packaging is now recyclable, hailing an 85-per-cent reduction of plastic in its footwear packaging since 2016.

On a wider scale, apparel industry heavyweights H&M, VF Corp, Kontoor Brands and Asos are among 10 companies that have committed to a new initiative launched by environmental not-for-profit Canopy to transform the impacts of the global packaging supply chain on forests. 

“While these efforts are to be applauded, there remains a long way to go to reduce the impact of the apparel and footwear industry’s packaging problem,” says Wright. 

“Steps such as Finisterre’s are effective in engaging the consumer with a tangible solution, allowing the brand to share the story behind the product and entice eco-conscious consumers.”

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