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Plastics make up 60-90% of ocean garbage. What we can do to reduce plastic waste used in the making, selling, and wearing of clothes.

Plastics make up 60-90% of ocean garbage. What we can do to reduce plastic waste used in the making, selling, and wearing of clothes.

Ocean garbage is a general term encompassing drifting garbage that has washed up on the coast or is floating in the ocean, and seabed garbage that has sunk to the bottom of the sea. Ocean garbage includes not only tools of the sea, such as fishing lines and nets, but also many other items used in our daily lives, such as plastic bottles and plastic bags. Did you know that 80% of ocean garbage comes from the cities we live in? As much as 11 million tons of plastic waste that cannot completely decompose once it has been washed into the sea flows into our oceans every year. As a result, 60-90% of ocean garbage includes various forms of plastic.

Initiatives for reducing plastic waste

Initiatives for reducing plastic waste

The clothes that you wear every day will have used a variety of different plastic when they were made and sold. UNIQLO is working hard in many ways to help reduce plastic waste.

Reducing plastic waste in the making of clothes

We talk about plastic in general but there are many different types of plastic materials. For instance, synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon are a type of plastic made from petroleum. PET bottles are perhaps the most well-known items of ocean garbage. However, we can use these bottles to make clothes if we can separate them very carefully and recycle them. We can even reduce the total amount of plastic waste itself by utilizing used plastic as a resource instead of new raw plastic materials.

Reducing plastic waste in the making of clothes

UNIQLO in Action

① The Fast Retailing Group aims to turn roughly 50% of all materials used into recycled materials, etc. by 2030 Fleece is one of our featured items for this season. 100% of the fabric for our fluffy fleece and other products is made from polyester yarn recycled from discarded PET bottles.

② Clothes-to-clothes recycling through RE.UNIQLO The technology and techniques for collecting clothes that customers no longer wear and recycling them into new clothes is evolving daily. The recycled nylon used in this season’s recycled down jackets is made, in part, from fabric taken from secondhand ultra light down items collected from customers.

Reducing plastic waste in the sale of clothing

UNIQLO uses many different plastics in its stores, from product packaging to hangers, stickers, and shopping bags. We are reviewing such items and working hard to replace them with alternative materials and products.

Shopping bags Clip Product packaging Hangers Shopping bags Clip Product packaging Hangers

UNIQLO in Action

① Replace plastic shopping bags with paper bags
UNIQLO switched to paper shopping bags (made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) certified paper or recycled paper) from September 2020. We started charging for plastic bags from September 1, 2020.

② Replace plastic packaging for products with materials that are more conducive to a recycling environment
We stopped using packaging for our room shoes from fall 2021, and we are switching to packaging made from recycled plastic for some items. We are also reducing the number of hangers, shirt clips, and size labels we use wherever possible, while also earnestly researching alternative products.

③ Further promote recycling activities to help achieve zero waste
We started switching to one single type of packaging material from 2020 to make it easier to recycle the packaging used in transporting our products. We started demonstration experiments on the separation, collection, and recycling of packaging materials at stores in some areas in 2021.

Reducing plastic waste in the wearing of clothes

Microplastics is a general term that refers to plastic pieces, particles, or fibers of less than 5mm in diameter. Most microplastics come from trash discarded in our towns or at the seaside, but microplastics also find their way into the seas from other, less obvious sources. One of those is our clothing. Very fine fibers flow into the water when we wash clothes made from synthetic fibers and linen. We now know that these fibers accumulate in the sea and other parts of our natural world. They are commonly referred to as microfibers. There are things we can do in our daily lives to reduce microfibers.

Reducing plastic waste in the wearing of clothes

Initiatives for reducing microfibers

The ultimate aim is to minimize the impact of microfibers on the natural environment. The Microfibre Consortium was launched to help develop solutions across the whole apparel industry. Research has begun to create solutions that transcend national and corporate boundaries, and to encourage the application of academic research results to textile production processes, with a commitment to a future in which the release of microfibers into the natural environment is properly managed. Specific solutions are being provided to individual brands, retailers, and suppliers to protect ecosystems.
UNIQLO joined the Microfibre Consortium in September 2019. We cooperate with the consortium’s research by providing data and fulfilling other tasks, signing the Microfibre 2030 Commitment to work towards zero impact from microfibers on the natural environment by 2030. UNIQLO is also a member of the Japan Clean Ocean Material Alliance (CLOMA). We are researching how to care for and wash clothes together with major washing detergent manufacturers.

How we can all work together to minimize the impact of microfibers

How we can all work together to minimize the impact of microfibers
1. Use a laundry net
Putting clothes in a laundry net when you wash them can reduce friction and help clothes last longer. Laundry nets have also been found to be effective in reducing the emission of microfibers. (Source: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA))
2. Carefully select your washing machine
Drum-type washing machines rank highly in terms of water-saving performance and are thought to be more effective at preventing the extraction and release of microfibers. Some research suggests drum-type washing machines can reduce microfiber emissions by roughly 70%. (Source: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA))
3. Reconsider how often you wash clothes
Do you wash your clothes more often than you need to? While you might want to wash T-shirts and innerwear more frequently, you can reduce the number of microfibers you generate by simply reducing the number of times you wash clothes that don’t come into direct contact with your skin from every time to every other time.
4. Look after your clothes and wear them for a long time
The more you wash your clothes, the less microfibers they shed, so taking care of each piece of clothing and wearing it for a long time will help reduce plastic waste.
We also introduce some tips and ways to care for your clothes so that you can enjoy wearing them for a long time on the UNIQLO sustainability website.