Study reveals fashion brands are exploring sustainable packaging

Aquapak study shows that fashion retailers and brands are exploring sustainable packaging - but there's room for improvement.

Aquapak Polymers, provider of polymer-based material technologies, has conducted a new study with board directors and senior executives of fashion brands and retailers in the UK, US and Australia revealing that most (83 percent) have already implemented the use of sustainable packaging. 

The report, The Future of Packaging in the Fashion Industry – embracing the sustainability trend launches as London Fashion Week draws to a close with sustainability initiatives very much on the agenda over the past five days. 

When asked how they would rate their company’s focus on using sustainable packaging at present, 45 percent of fashion executives said they only use sustainable materials, 38 percent said they have started to use them but there’s room for improvement.  However, 14 percent said there’s little focus in the business on using them, and 3 percent said they aren’t a priority – concerning statistics.

When asked about sustainable materials used to date, two thirds said they were using bioplastics – plastic materials produced from renewable biomass sources such as starch, oils, woodchips and sawdust.  Over half (57 percent) said that they are using paperboard, 52 percent cited multi-material combinations such as paper and plastic, and 48 percent said they were using new polymers which offer the same properties as plastic, but without harming the environment.

When asked how good they think their company’s use of sustainable packaging will be in three years’ time, just 15 percent said excellent, 76 percent said good and 9 percent thought it would be average.  The research showed that paperboard is the material 71 percent fashion brands and retailers are most likely to use instead of plastic over the next three years, followed by new polymers (69 percent) and then multi-material solutions (57 percent). 

Mark Lapping, CEO of Aquapak, commented: ‘Our study shows that sustainable packaging is on the boardroom agenda of fashion brands and retailers.  They are already exploring different types of materials to replace plastic, with a shift to paperboard and new polymers which provide garment and merchandise protection, but do not have any of the environmental problems associated with conventional plastic.’

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 are claimed to 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 harmful micro-plastics, according to Aquapak. They are also compostable and degrade harmlessly on land or in the ocean.