One aspect of the marine plastic crisis that’s so far escaped widespread attention is the poly bag problem. Almost every item of clothing gets wrapped in one of these clear plastic bags the moment it leaves the production line. The vast majority of them end up in landfill or worse.
We’ve been working alongside Patagonia towards a solution, and while it’s not a perfect one by any means, it’s a start. When you buy a Patagonia product on Surfdome between 16th March and 16th June, you’ll be taking part in a trial initiative called Plastic Cutback. The product you receive won’t be wrapped in a clear plastic bag, which in turn won’t end up leaking into the environment, as so many of these bags do.
We want to take the problem of plastic packaging out of your hands. But why? And, perhaps more to the point, how?
We’ve been grappling with plastic packaging for years – literally as well as figuratively, both as a company and as an industry. 80 billion items of clothing are sold a year, and almost every one of these items is at some stage wrapped in a poly bag. These bags can’t be recycled curbside, which generally means they don’t get recycled at all.
72% of plastic still winds up either in landfill or escaping into ecosystems. For poly bags that figure is as high as 90%.
And yet these bags do serve a purpose: without their protection countless items would be damaged and thrown away, with potentially even worse environmental consequences. Meanwhile biodegradable bags bring complications of their own, often biodegrading too soon (to the detriment of the product inside) or too late (to the detriment of the environment).
In 2019 our own packaging was 99.81% plastic-free; 99.44% was made up of recycled natural fibres. But that’s just ‘outbound’ packaging, the packaging on top of the packaging. There’s still the ‘inbound’ packaging to worry about – products arrive at our warehouse in poly bags, which are passed on to customers, who inevitably struggle to reach one of the few collection points where poly bags are accepted for recycling.
So for every Patagonia product purchased during the Plastic Cutback trial, we’ll do that bit for you: remove the poly bag for the last and least intensive leg of its journey. It’s easier for us, as we can recycle in bulk via a trusted third party. Your Better Sweater still gets to you safe and sound, and we’ll make sure the poly bag is recycled properly.
Not the solution – just our one.