The importance of plastics recycling has grown in recent years due to increased environmental concerns, and many companies have begun doing their part to incorporate more recycling into their operations.
While the manufacturing sector is likely the first field we think of in regards to recycling, many others you might not suspect have also taken up the charge. Case in point, the fashion industry has recently been looking for ways to increase its green efforts.
With this post, we’ll take a look at what various fashion companies are doing to play a role in plastics recycling, as well as some efforts the industry is planning for the future.
Plastic Recycling Efforts by Everlane and Madewell
A recent announcement by clothing company Everlane generated a lot of buzz. Let’s take a look at specifics:
- In October of 2018, Everlane announced plans to remove virgin, or nonrecycled, plastic from its operations. Their goal was to have all virgin plastic removed by 2021.
- Soon after this announcement, the brand launched ReNew, which is a line of winter clothing, including fleeces, parkas, and puffers, that utilize recycled plastic.
- The garments in this line were crafted with over 3 million plastic bottles, with 15-60 bottles being utilized per garment.
- Traditionally, puffer jackets had a filling of down from birds, but since many animal rights groups object to such fillings, alternatives have increasingly been used. Synthetics, such as polyester and plastics are now commonly used, so incorporating recycled plastics into these coats can make a major impact on reducing plastic output!
- Everlane has taken great effort to promote this change, highlighting the plastic bottle count for each of its products on their various pages.
- Soon after Everlane’s announcement, Madewell introduced a new puffer that had been in the works that also utilizes recycled materials.
- The coat, called the Travel Buddy Packable Puffer, isn’t quite as impressive as its Everlane counterpart since it only has the equivalent of 6 plastic bottles compared to 15-60. Still, it’s a positive development, especially since it utilizes 100% recycled content!
These companies’ actions are certainly being fueled by the more eco-conscious consumer base they currently serve, with Millennials and those in Generation Z being more concerned with environmental concerns than past generations.
The parkas, puffers, and fleeces also come as no surprise as ways to “go green” since the synthetic materials used to fill them are known for retaining heat, even when they become wet. This makes the recycled polyester and plastic fill not only environmentally sound, but functionally beneficial.
Plastic Recycling Efforts by Eileen Fisher and Patagonia
Two other brands that are doing their part for the environment and incorporating recycled plastics into their products are Eileen Fisher and Patagonia. Let’s take a look at specifics:
- Eileen Fisher has been engaging in using recycled materials for a number of years, offering puffer jackets that utilize recycled nylon and polyester as filling material.
- The company additionally has a tack-back program they label Renew, which acquires almost 800 items of clothing daily that will later be mended or recycled.
- Patagonia, meanwhile, has a collection of polyester garments that are made from the recycled material gathered from plastic bottles. What’s amazing is that they have had this program in place for over twenty-five years—since 1993!
Plastic Recycling Efforts by Maggie Marilyn
One company to make a major push for a change in the way recycling is approached in the fashion industry is the relatively new New Zealand company Maggie Marilyn.
- This company was founded with the goal or being sustainable while still providing upscale items to its clientele.
- For their recent “Season Six” collection, Maggie Marilyn has been shipping all of its items in bags that are totally biodegradable, being crafted out of root starch, vegetable polymer, and vegetable oil.
- The standard packaging for clothing items within the industry is polyurethane, which is problematic since that material cannot be composted and can lead to microplastics and various toxins entering the environment. These new biodegradable packages will go a long way in helping to reduce the plastic buildup around the world.
Plastic Recycling Efforts by Other Companies
Some additional companies that have recently made strides in plastic recycling include Rothy’s, Timberland, and Adidas. Let’s take a look at each:
- Rothy’s has made the step to craft an entire product line, their lightweight flats, around a knit composed of 100% recycled plastic. To date, over 23 million plastic bottles have been utilized in their operations!
- Boot and clothing company Timberland, meanwhile, has implemented a number of green challenges to themselves, showcasing their current progress on the responsibility section of their website. Current goals include utilizing 100% sustainable sourced cotton, being 100% PVC free, utilizing 100% recycled, organic, or renewable materials, and more.
- Adidas has also looked for ways to make an impact, with current efforts focused on using recycled ocean plastic within all of their products by the year 2024.
Of course, these are just a few of the great companies doing their part to utilize recycled materials and help reduce plastic waste. We’ll be sure to present more companies doing likewise in varied industries in the future!
Some Interesting Stats About Plastic Recycling, and Where We Go from Here
As shown above, more and more companies are recognizing the importance of incorporating green programs and methodologies into their operations. This comes as no surprise since public opinion has certainly shifted toward a more eco-conscious view. Here are some key insights to think about:
- As reported by National Geographic, 9.2 billion tons of plastic have accumulated on the planet since about 1950, once the material began to be utilized in an array of products.
- Only 9% of plastic is currently recycled, leaving the vast majority in landfills or dumps, or simply polluting the environment, particularly the oceans.
- 60% of Generation Z have been shown to select and support brands that play a role in social causes, including plastics recycling and ocean conservation.
- With many clothing items being made of a blend of cotton and polyester fibers, these items are virtually nonrecyclable in terms of their plastic content. What’s worse is that every cycle in the washing machine these garments go through leads to the release of toxic microplastics, which in turn spread into water ways. New methodologies, however, are being developed to separate cotton and polyester without degrading the fibers themselves, certainly a step in the right direction.
- Washing machine companies have likewise taken up the cause of preventing the release of microplastics from clothing. New techniques underway include microplastic-trapping bags for clothes, balls designed to catch microplastics during a wash cycle, and filters for microplastics built into washing machines.
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