Environmental campaigners are rejecting the sustainable credentials of clothing made of recycled plastic bottles, saying that it only adds to “fashion’s waste crisis”. The Changing Markets Foundation revealed in its latest video the five reasons why using recycled single-use plastic water bottles are mere greenwashing by high-street fashion brands as they do not contribute to helping the environment become free from plastic waste.
The group, along with plastic pollution campaigner City to Sea, claimed that once the plastic bottles were made into clothing, it cannot be further recycled and will be thrown away after its use, thereby sending it into a ‘one-way route’ which goes either to the landfill, incineration, or being dumped in nature. This further highlighted that turning bottles into polyester removes the bottles into the circular loop. It also does not solve the microplastic pollution problem that has become prevalent on land and in the oceans.
The video statement follows Changing Markets Foundation’s latest report titled ‘Synthetics Anonymous Fashion brands’ addiction to fossil fuels’ which investigated about 50 major fashion brands regarding their use of synthetic fibres and their transparency about doing so.
The campaigners cited retailer H&M which had reported that 90 per cent of its recycled polyester comes from single-use plastic bottles while other companies examined target to achieve 85 per cent using the downcycled PET bottles for their polyester needs. “Retailers like Nike, H&M, Primark and Zara’s parent group, Inditex, all rely on the false solution of downcycling single-use plastic bottles to meet its demand for synthetic polyester,” Changing Markets Foundation said in a statement.
George Harding-Rolls, Campaigns Adviser at the Changing Markets Foundation commented: “Sustainability isn’t something big business can slip on and off like the latest fashions. It must be woven into every level of their operations. With their carefully marketed green credentials unravelling fast, brands are clinging to recycled bottles for clothes to distract consumers from their inherently unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels for fibre. If fashion brands are serious about reducing their environmental impact, they should stop the charade of downcycling plastic bottles into clothes and instead focus on cutting their addiction to fossil fuels and curbing overproduction.”
Jo Morley, Head of Marketing and Campaigns at City to Sea noted that the environmental impact of fast fashion is huge in the same manner that humans’ dependence on single-use plastics such as water bottles.
She said the solutions are quite simple. “Buy less, and when you do buy, support the reuse economy. For water bottles, this means carrying reusable bottles and refilling them, and for clothes, this means buying, when you need to, second-hand pre-loved clothing,” she concluded.