How we are limiting the use of plastic in our packaging, encouraging brands to do the same and exploring ‘naked’ products.
Plastic, the miracle material that helped shape modern life as we know it. It’s estimated that more than 8.3 billion tonnes of the stuff has been produced since the 1950s, and as the demand for plastic increases, it in turn overwhelms our ability to deal with it. We are all becoming more aware of the catastrophic impact plastic has on our planet. Over two-thirds of it ends up in landfill and every year millions of tonnes of plastic waste enters our oceans, where there will be more plastic than fish in the next 30 years if current trends continue.
The clothing industry must accept a huge part of the blame, its addiction to plastic and reliance on single-use packaging has made it one of the major contributors to plastic pollution. But what can be done about it? Whilst the conscious shopper can strive to buy more sustainable apparel, we can be left feeling a little helpless when what we buy arrives in plastic packaging. That’s why we at Webtogs are doing everything we can to kick out unnecessary plastic in our production line, use sustainable packaging where we can and try to tackle the issue of polybags. It may be just the start, but by moving towards plastic-free packaging and supporting brands that do the same, we can do our part to slow down the effects of plastic on the environments we love.
When it comes to packaging, our aim is to lead from the front by limiting the use of plastic wherever possible. We’ve been on a mission to tackle plastic pollution since 2015, which is why we invested in a state-of-the-art warehouse and unique packaging system. As a result of this, 99.81% of our outbound packaging is now plastic-free, and we are currently trailing a solution for the final 1%. If successful, our outbound packaging will be entirely free from plastic. We’re proud of this, especially as most of our competitors still dispatch products in plastic mailing bags. Moreover, over 96% of the packaging that we do use is made from recycled materials and ZERO waste from our warehouse goes into landfill. Not bad if we do say so ourselves.
As a distributor, we are just one piece of the puzzle, which is why we ensure that every brand that supplies us must adhere to our strict guidelines that limit plastic use and encourage recyclable and biodegradable packaging. We also actively promote brands that use the most minimal and environmentally sound packaging available, such as Patagonia. We hope that in turn this will drive innovation in the industry and help reduce waste.
The Polybag Problem
Whilst we do our best to make sure we use as little plastic as possible in our packaging, there is still the major issue of polybags. For those that don’t know, these are super durable, weatherproof and pliable bags that keep your goods protected – they are also notoriously difficult to recycle. Inbound products arrive at our warehouse in polybags, which are then passed on to our customers who have to take them to one of few collection points to be recycled. It’s no surprise then that most polybags end up in landfill, where they sit for hundreds of years releasing harmful toxins and microplastics into the soil and ocean.
Why not use sustainable polybags? Unfortunately, a lot of biodegradable alternatives are not as hardwearing and won’t protect the product inside. And if this product is damaged, it can end up in a landfill and cause even bigger problems. So, what’s the solution? One option we have tried is to remove the polybag for the last and least intensive part of the product’s journey (from our warehouse to your doorstep) so we can recycle them for you. This has only been trialled with certain brands and is very much a work in progress, but we will continue to encourage other suppliers to get on board and rethink their polybag use.
A Plastic-Free Future?
A future free from plastic may sound utopian, but there are several forward-thinking companies out there who want to turn the tide of plastic pollution by stopping using it altogether. One of those is ‘A Plastic Planet’, which is actively encouraging brands to drastically reduce the use of plastic packaging and instead turn to more sustainable alternatives. What can we use instead of plastic though? Their website showcases a range of biodegradable materials that are much kinder on the planet, including wood pulp, plant cellulose and even food waste. Look out for A Plastic Planet’s Plastic Free Trustmark that defines plastic-free products, materials and packaging. Check out their website here.
We are also looking into entirely plastic-free or ‘naked products’. As of 2021, we have started to accept products without a polybag on an initial trial with certain brands. We hope you understand that this is a slow process, as the quality of your purchases is still our number one priority. We hope to branch this out to even more brands in the future.
Can the industry kick its plastic addiction? We wish it was as simple as ditching the polybag forever and saying goodbye to plastic packaging for good, but sadly it’s not that straightforward.
Hopefully, we can lead by example with our sustainable outbound packaging and encourage other brands and distributors to follow suit. Whilst working with brands to help limit plastic packaging and introducing degradable alternatives and naked products is just a start, we see any plastic diverted from a landfill or the ocean as a small success.
Why not explore our other Sustainability Blogs or check out our Sustainable Gear collection.