First Mile partners with Fashion for Good to tackle clothing packaging waste

Recycling company First Mile has partnered with sustainable fashion innovation platform Fashion for Good to tackle plastic polybag waste in the fashion industry.

An image of a fashion polybag

The plastic film bags are commonly used to pack, transport and store items of clothing before they are displayed in-store, and whilst 180 billion are produced each year, only 15 per cent are currently collected for recycling.

Although plastic film commonly poses recycling challenges due to the presence of inks and colours, the majority of polybags are made from clear low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film, which has the potential to be recycled back into high-quality film products.

As part of Fashion for Good’s Plastic Packaging Project, the company is aiming to tackle the mountain of polybags sent to landfill or incineration by testing the current recycling infrastructure, with First Mile collecting and recycling the bags from retail stores in central London.

At the end of the three-month pilot, Fashion for Good will collate and analyse data on the viability of separate polybag collection for brands, while First Mile will report on the recycling outcomes.

The pilot will be supported by Fashion for Good’s corporate partners: Adidas, Kering, PVH Corp and Stella McCartney.

Commenting on the polybag recycling pilot, First Mile founder and CEO Bruce Batley said: “The spotlight has been well and truly focused on the sustainability of the fashion industry in recent months, and this is an area where recycling can make a massive difference.

“There’s an incredible amount of plastic polybag packaging waste that isn’t currently recycled and will often end up in landfill or being incinerated. As we all strive towards achieving an efficient circular economy, maximising the recycling of these polybags is a hugely positive move.”

Katrin Ley, Managing Director at Fashion for Good, added: “The fashion industry needs to tackle polybag packaging waste and work together to make a closed loop system a reality. This involves the sector committing to make current polybags more recyclable, supporting innovation in recycling, but crucially, focusing on systems for collection of polybags at all places that polybag waste is generated. We look forward to seeing the results of this part of the Plastics Project with First Mile.”

With plastic pollution high on the agenda, First Mile has partnered with the Kik-Plastic beach clean-up cycle challenge, conducting analysis of the beach clean results, and has teamed up with KeyKeg to pilot a beer keg recycling programme in London, while also offering a ‘RecycleBox’ return service for compostable packaging company Vegware.

The recycling company also collects waste coffee grounds from Caffè Nero to be used by reprocessor bio-bean to develop biofuels.

You can find more information on the First Mile and Fashion for Good websites.

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