Asda has joined brands and retailers including Marks & Spencer, Ikea, ASOS and The North Face as a member of the European Outdoor Group’s Microfibre Consortium. Companies involved in the initiative will discuss research opportunities and projects aimed at reducing how much clothing microfibre seeps into the environment.

“Asda has been working to reduce the impact its products have on the environment for many years, such as voluntarily banning microbeads from our products and helping our suppliers reduce their carbon footprint through our Sustain and Save Exchange,” Asda’s sustainability manager, Laura Babbs, said.

“The microfibre issue is complex and currently lacks a comprehensive research base, so it’s the right thing to do to work with other companies and share best practice that will allow us to make an industry-wide impact.”

Microfibres are seeping into the environment at an alarming rate, mainly through washing clothing. Research suggests that microfibres account for 85% of shoreline pollution globally and MPs in the UK have launched an inquiry into the impact that the fashion sector is having on the environment.

Through its clothing brand, George, Asda is the second-largest clothing retailer by volume in the UK. Earlier this year, it published its Plastic Unwrapped strategy, which committed to reducing the amount of plastic produced and used across the business. Since the launch, around 2,500 tonnes of plastic have been removed from own-brand packaging – equivalent to 231.5 million plastic bottles – with plans to more than double this by February next year.

Collaborative and conserve

The Microfibre Consortium is one of many collaborative projects that Asda has recently involved itself in.

Last week, for example, Asda teamed up with the likes of Unilever and Sainsbury’s to work on a Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) initiative to support progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The company, as part of the Natural Capital Impact Group, also unveiled a new set of metrics to help other organisations identify, measure, and value impacts and dependencies on natural assets, raw materials and natural infrastructure.

edie’s Responsible Retail 2018

Solving key challenges – including modern slavery, supply chain involvement and the circular economy – will be one of the key themes of edie’s third annual Responsible Retail conference, taking place on 20 September 2018 at 99 City Road, London.

The full-day event has been designed for the retailers, sustainability professionals and key stakeholders that are looking for the information, insight and inspiration required to seize the sustainability opportunity.

Find out more about Responsible Retail 2018 and register to attend here.

Matt Mace

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