Half of fast fashion made from virgin plastics

Half of the clothes sold by leading fast fashion brands are made entirely of new plastics, a study has revealed.

The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) made the finding after analysing more than 10,000 items of women’s clothing advertised by Asos, Boohoo, Missguided and PrettyLittleThing.

On average, 49 per cent of these ranges were produced exclusively with non-recycled plastics such as polyester and nylon.

Asos had the lowest rate with 36 per cent of its items derived exclusively from new synthetic fibres, while Boohoo had the worst with 60 per cent.

These plastics are bad for the environment because they produce 20 per cent more CO2 than a cotton equivalent, according to an MIT study. They will also most likely end up in landfill because of throwaway culture and deficiencies in recycling in the UK, the RSA said.

None of the four firms examined in the study used many recycled materials to make their clothing, with Missguided’s 5 per cent higher than the other three.

In total, researchers estimated that the average item listed by these companies is 61 per cent plastic, despite fashion companies pledging to market environmentally friendly clothing.

The findings come after a boom in online shopping during the pandemic, with Asos reporting £2bn in sales over the last financial year and Boohoo recording a 41 per cent rise in purchases.