A LANDMARK new poll has today revealed some eight-in-ten Britons (81 percent) want the
Government to make it mandatory for brands to introduce labelling which shows whether plastic
is present in their clothing and accessories.
The Yonder poll of 2,091 UK adults was commissioned by global solutions organisation A
Coinciding with the poll, retail expert and broadcaster Mary Portas, author and Professor of
Environmental Medicine and Public Health Dr Shanna Swan, Fashion Revolution co-founder
Orsola de Castro, and former Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas have joined more than 40
parliamentarians, academics, and campaigners calling for the labelling system in an open letter.
The poll also revealed some 72 percent are unaware of the amount of plastic used to make
clothing, while two thirds were not aware of fashion’s impact on plastic pollution.
It comes as part of A Plastic Planet’s newly launched Plastic Free Fashion campaign – a
movement designed to curb the industry’s contribution to plastic pollution.
Today also sees the launch of A Plastic Planet’s new open source plastic-free materials
innovation hub on Ubuntoo’s solutions platform, bringing together innovators in textiles and
sustainability with the fashion industry to accelerate solutions.
Some 60 percent of all material made into clothing is plastic. 1 As clothes are washed, they shed
plastic synthetic fibres which then enter the environment.
More than a third of all microplastics released into the ocean are estimated to derive from
synthetic fibres. 2 Laundry alone causes half a million tonnes of these microfibres to be released
into the seas every year – the equivalent of three billion polyester shirts.
While some 70 million barrels of oil are used each year just to make polyester, with its
production releasing up to three times more carbon than natural materials.
With the majority of Britons unaware of fashion’s contribution to plastic pollution, the open letter
accompanying the poll urges the Government to implement a labelling system similar to that
being rolled out under EU legislation which shows where hidden plastic is present in certain
The group warns that if the Government is serious about combatting the plastic crisis, it must
tackle plastic pollution stemming from the fashion industry.
The letter has been signed by a host of academics in the plastic microfibre space including Dr
Janelle Knox-Hayes, Associate Professor at MIT, Professor Ian Croudace of the National
Oceanography Centre Southampton, and Professor Teresa F Fernandes of Heriot-Watt
Some 30 cross-party parliamentarians have backed the letter, including Labour’s former
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell MP, and former Leader of the Green
Party, Caroline Lucas MP.
Other figures from the fashion industry backing the calls include Prama Bhardwaj, CEO and
Founder of Mantis World, Charlie Bradley Ross, Director of Offset Warehouse & The
Sustainable Fashion Collective, and Sara Arnold, Co-founder of Fashion Act Now.
Campaigners warn there must be far greater onus placed on plastic pollution deriving from the
fashion industry, believing a clear labelling system will help consumers make informed decisions
when considering the environmental impact of the clothing they buy.
They also say a label will make brands far more accountable for the plastic present in their
clothing and accessories, as consumers look for more environmentally friendly products.
Sian Sutherland, A Plastic Planet co-founder, said: “For years the fashion industry’s impact on
plastic pollution has gone under the radar. But now the truth is known on the huge volumes of
fossil fuels being used to make our clothing and the plastic microfibres that are being shed into
our air as we wear them, and flushed down our drains with every wash.
“We are never going to collect or recycle these tiny toxic fibres. They will pollute our planet for
centuries. This is about transparency and choice. Shoppers deserve to know the impact their
clothes are having on the planet. Without clear labelling, we cannot choose to change. The
Government must listen to public demand and introduce mandatory labels to show the hidden
plastic in clothing.
“We know change is hard for the fashion industry, who have been using plastic as the cheap
and easy default for decades. That’s why we are also launching the Plastic Free Fashion
innovation greenhouse today – totally free and open source for brands to connect with new
materials and systems.”
Retail expert and broadcaster Mary Portas said: “We’re becoming increasingly aware of the
textile industry’s impact on the plastic crisis. Unbeknown to people, the essential act of washing
clothing is resulting in millions of plastic microfibres polluting nature.