Polybags in the Fashion Industry: Evaluating the Options

December 10, 2019

Fashion for Good and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition have collaboratively authored a white paper, “Polybags in the Fashion Industry: Evaluating the Options.” This paper presents a comprehensive overview of the environmental issues surrounding polybags, the relevant considerations around system improvements and material choices, and provides constructive guidance for brand owners, retailers, and their supply chain partners seeking to improve the environmental profile of their system of polybag usage.

Polybags – the clear plastic bags which cover every garment from manufacturing to retail stores or consumers’ homes – are ubiquitous within the fashion industry and have become the symbol of single-use plastic packaging for apparel, footwear, and outdoor product companies. Approximately 180 billion polybags are used every year, and many companies within the fashion industry have been challenged to address polybag waste as they pursue their zero waste goals. With an amplifying conversation on the circular economy and alternatives to plastic, polybags have become a hotbed of industry activity, and interest in novel solutions is at an unprecedented high.

The white paper includes a robust discussion of the ways in which polybags can be improved, including practical guidance on creating circular systems and a discussion of the trade-offs involved with material selection, with numerous examples of initiatives currently underway in the fashion industry highlighted to provide context. Readers from the retailer, brand owner, and packaging supplier communities will find actionable recommendations and thought-provoking information intended to broaden and unify the understanding of the ways in which sustainable packaging principles should be applied to polybags.

The European Outdoor Group and the Retail Industry Leaders Association also contributed to the white paper.