Over the past week or so, I’ve come across some interesting articles I thought worth sharing.
The first, linked here, titled “H&M to Cut Prices Again as Delivery Problems Swell Clothing Stockpile”, describes H&M’s rising inventories and plans to further discount some of its clothing in an effort to improve its cash flow and balance sheet. The problem with the fast fashion trend is it encourages a “buy, wear a few times, and toss it away” mentality which has been helping accelerate the large increase in clothing being put into landfills. The thought of H&M further reducing prices and blowing out some inventory is unsettling to say the least to those of us concerned about the sustainability of the industry.
The second article, titled “Apparel Circularity Advances With Two More Brands on Board” is linked here. Two major brands, Guess and The North Face are launching programs aimed at improving sustainability and moving toward a circular economy by recycling and reusing textile and apparel products. Guess is teaming up with I:Collect (I:CO), which collects, sorts, reuses and recycles used apparel and footwear, to launch a wardrobe recycling program. The program, called Resourced, launched in California on Monday will expand to all of North America by the end of 2018 and globally by 2020. They will give a 15% discount on a future purchase to anyone who brings 5 pieces of used clothing to one of their stores for recycling. I sincerely hope they have more success with this program than H&M has apparently had with a similar one. The North Face recently rolled out The North Face Renewed collection of refurbished products for consumers. All Renewed items, which are sourced from returned, defective or damaged apparel, have been thoroughly inspected, cleaned and refurbished to The North Face quality and performance standards. The company, a division of VF Corp., has had a history of sustainable products, having produced the Denali Jacket and other performance wear using Repreve® recycled polyester filament for many years. This is a natural and welcome extension to that commitment and I applaud their efforts.
Several articles have been published recently about the Chinese ban on imported waste, which includes PET bottles and scrap, and many types of textiles. A couple of them are linked here and here. There are many more if you care to Google it. This ban appears to be permanent and is expanding in scope which is forcing many countries to scramble to find outlets for their recyclable waste, including putting it into landfills. Not a good situation, but a couple good things may come from this. First, many developed countries will have to seriously assess their use and disposal of plastics which, with innovation, could result in more responsible consumption habits. Secondly, with plastic bottles suddenly in oversupply, the price for scrap plastic bottles should come down considerably. Since these are the main input for recycled polyester yarn and staple, this could reduce pricing for recycled yarns to near or below commodity virgin polyester prices. If this happens, it could greatly increase use of recycled polyester yarns into many garments which previously had been too price sensitive to use them. That could spur investment in expanding recycling capacity here in the US and in other countries. That would be a good thing.
Finally, about 3 years ago on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver went on a rant about cheap fashion. I’ve linked to it here. It’s funny, biting, and worth about 15 minutes of your time.