Driving a Circular Solution
The Circular Polybag Pilot was announced by Managing Director, Katrin Ley, at Fashion for Good’s biannual Innovation event. The Circular Polybag Pilot is the first pilot in a programme of activities initiated by Fashion for Good focusing on scalable solutions to address the issue of plastics in the fashion industry. The pilot, slated to begin in early 2020, explores the opportunities and feasibility of moving towards a circular solution that can reduce the use and impact of the polybag, and potentially, decrease our dependency on fossil fuels feedstocks. Partnering with key industry players adidas, C&A, Kering, Otto Group and PVH Corp., to support the pilot, ensures the volume of polybag waste collected and the subsequent recycled polybags purchased is enough to run an industrial trial at scale.
“We are pleased to be part of the Circular Polybag Pilot and to seek sustainable solutions together with other companies and strong partners in the apparel industry. We can only make a real difference and make a big contribution to sustainability with a closed-loop model that saves resources,” emphasises Stefan Krantz, Head of Group Services at the Otto Group.
The polybag is ubiquitous in the fashion industry; approximately 180 billion of them are produced every year to store, transport and protect garments, footwear and accessories. Existing recycled polybags mostly use pre-consumer off-cuts and shrink wrap waste, usually from the polybag production line, and are generally not contaminated with inks or adhesives. Crucially, this is not a fully circular solution as it depends on the sourcing of this high-quality waste – and current technology means other sources of abundant feedstock are hard to utilise. Less than 15% of all polybags in circulation are collected for recycling.
The current pilot focuses on manufacturing a suitably clear recycled polybag using a high percentage of post-consumer polybag waste which includes ink and adhesive contaminants. The pilot aims to validate and further commercialise this new supply of waste for recycled content polybag production, returning the recycled bags back into circulation within the supply chain.
High Quality Recycled Plastics Through Innovation
Spanish based innovator Cadel Deinking has developed a patented technology that is able to deink and remove adhesives from post-consumer polybag waste, producing high-quality Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) pellets which can be used to manufacture new polybags. Pilot partners will initially supply several tonnes of post-consumer polybag waste, collecting them from brand distribution centres and retail stores. Cadel Deinking will deink and recycle the waste polybags into pellets. Gaviplas, parent company of Cadel, will then manufacture the pellets into new polybags that can re-enter the supply chain, closing the loop to create a truly circular solution.
The Circular Polybag Pilot will run for approximately three to five months. At its conclusion, Fashion for Good will explore means to further scale and mainstream the solution in the fashion industry. Results and learnings from this initial pilot will be disseminated in a comprehensive report and announced at the completion of this pilot.
To outline the current issues with polybags in the Fashion Industry, Fashion for Good, in collaboration with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, has produced a white paper titled “Polybags in the Fashion Industry: Evaluating the Options” to detail five steps that brands can work on right now to reduce their impact.
The white paper is available to download here: https://fashionforgood.com/polybag-research