Technological watch

Study Highlights Fashion Industry's Commitment to Circular Economy of Plastics

Key Highlights:

  • A study by Aquapak Polymers Ltd reveals that 12% of fashion brands and retailers expect their business to be fully circular within one to two years, with a total of 77% aiming to achieve this goal within the next four years.
  • While 54% of respondents see their business as a market leader and innovator in sustainability, only 21% rate the quality and effectiveness of their sustainability strategy as excellent, indicating room for improvement.
  • Aquapak's innovative polymer, Hydropol, offers an environmentally responsible alternative with zero end-of-life issues.
A new study with board directors and senior executives who work for fashion brands and retailers in the UK, US and Australia, by Aquapak Polymers Ltd reveals 12% expect their business to be fully circular within one to two years, 34% within two to three years and 31% within three to four years. One fifth expect to reach this goal in four to five years. 

Almost one third (32%) rated their strategy for making their business fully circular as excellent, over half (54%) said it was good and 14% described it as average, suggesting there is room for improvement.   

When it comes to sustainability leadership, over half (54%) described their business as a market leader and innovator, 39% said that their business was average and ‘following the leaders’ and 7% describe their business as a laggard and ‘playing catchup’. 

Aquapack Polymers

The findings also show that while 49% said sustainability is regarded as highly important to the success of their business, just 21% described the quality of effectiveness of their sustainability strategy and programme as excellent.   

Over one third (37%) said that reducing the use of polyethylene plastic in packaging is a highly important part of their sustainability strategy, and a further 63% said it was quite important. 

To help reduce plastic packaging pollution Aquapak has developed Hydropol, a unique new polymer which is soluble and non-toxic to marine life. Hydropol can be used as an alternative to conventional plastic in a wide variety of applications as it provides the same functionality and performance but without the associated environmental problems. 

It is currently used to make products such as garment bags, offering all the necessary features of traditional polybags: strength and puncture resistance; clarity of film; and protection from leakages and dirt.  

Crucially, Hydropol garment bags present zero end-of-life issues for consumers and brands. They can be disposed of in existing domestic waste streams without contaminating other recyclable products or they can be dissolved immediately in hot water at home without producing dangerous micro-plastics. They are also compostable, and degrade harmlessly on land or in the ocean.  

Mark Lapping, CEO of Aquapak, commented: “Our study shows that the circular economy and sustainability are priorities for boards and senior executives in the fashion industry, although only half think that their business is at the vanguard of change when it comes to innovation and market-leadership. There has been an acceleration in new technologies in the sector, so the opportunity for brands to step up and lead the industry is there for the taking.  

“Aquapak is already working with several early-adopter fashion companies who are determined to drive a significant change in the industry by embracing upstream innovation in packaging. These businesses are proof that new materials work and can make the difference that consumers are now demanding to see from fashion brands.” 

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Publication date: 16/01/2024

European Plastic Product Manufacturer

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31