Outdoor industry partners to combat problem of single-use plastics

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2022-03-07 10:11:53 – France

The European Outdoor Group (EOG) industry association has unveiled sector-wide new proposals aimed at addressing the issue of single-use plastics in the outdoor apparel value chain.

The Single-Use Plastics Project (SUPP) Report, offers a mechanism for removing and properly caring for protective plastic (poly) bags before they end up in incinerators, landfills, or are exported. The report is the latest outcome from SUPP, a project led by the EOG and featuring over 35 brands and retailers from throughout Europe who collaborated closely.

Product poly bags for clothing and equipment account for the vast majority of single-use plastics in the outdoor industry's supply chain. SUPP was established by the EOG in 2018 with the goal of researching and assessing the impact of these bags, as well as working quickly to address the issue. The report covers the entire project's history, from research in 2019 through pilot testing of solutions from the end of 2019 to the end of 2021, to the deployment of the agreed-upon system, which will commence this year. Progress has only been possible because to the willingness of all parties concerned to exchange knowledge, with the realisation that issues as large as single-use plastics can only be addressed through effective pre-competitive cooperation.

The detailed report contains an overview of the issue, a summary of the research and science surrounding the available materials, an assessment of the current limitations and opportunities within municipal recycling systems, the results of the pilot project, and recommendations for a new system to be implemented across the industry. SUPP has been led by EOG's Scott Nelson and, more recently, Dr. Verity Hardy since its inception. They've been collaborating closely with the association's CSR and sustainability department, other members of the larger team, and industry partners and stakeholders. SUPP published the Poly Bag Standards paper in July 2021, and this study is a companion piece to that publication.

Scott Nelson said that they developed the baseline by analysing the scope and proportion of the problem across the sector, as well as closely following poly bags from manufacturing to waste management, They looked at prospective solutions and material options, compared the environmental consequences of their plastic packaging to alternatives, and looked at poly bag end-of-life scenarios. They were only able to do all of this because every organisation involved was totally dedicated to the project and willing to share vital information and ideas throughout the group.

The SUPP Report details how the project's study phase revealed that using alternative materials to single-use plastics tends to shift rather than ameliorate environmental impacts, resulting in new and progressively significant negative outcomes. These findings were crucial in determining the nature of the potential solutions that SUPP tested and is currently proposing for adoption across the industry.

Scott Nelson adds that it became increasingly evident that they needed to see this as a systemic rather than a materials issue. As a result, the industry-wide solutions they recommend in the study are clearly systems-based.

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