Colder washes can quadruple life of clothes, claims P&G

Procter & Gamble (P&G) has claimed that consumers could quadruple the longevity of their clothes and deliver huge carbon and water savings by switching to colder and quicker wash cycles.

The owner of household brands such as Ariel, Lenor and Fairy this week launched its ‘Long Live Fashion’ campaign, which encourages consumers to switch to colder and shorter washes and to use both detergent and fabric softener

P&G’s research found that washing at 40C uses more than double the amount of energy as washing in a cold and quick cycle. It also revealed that quadrupling the life of one 3kg basket of clothing would save 230kg CO2 – the carbon equivalent of driving nearly 878km – and 7,000 litres of water.

“Sourcing, production and recycling are the focus of a great deal of attention in fashion, but the impact of extending the life of clothes during the so called ‘use phase’ has been largely ignored so far,” P&G’s global vice president for fabric enhancers Bert Wouters said. “We are delighted that the ‘Long Live Fashion Formula’ can help reduce the environmental burden of fashion.”

The campaign launch comes after research by not-for-profit WRAP revealed that extending the life of just one in five garments by 10% across the whole of Europe could save three million tonnes of CO2 annually that would otherwise generated from creating new clothes – enough to power 500,000 homes for a year.

This would also save 150 million litres of water and divert 6.4 million tonnes of clothing from landfill annually, WRAP found.

Ambition 2030

As well as setting ambitious internal sustainability targets, P&G is now turning to external behaviour change in a bid to maximise its positive environmental impact.

The clothes longevity initiative is one of the first communications drives under the firm’s Ambition 2030 sustainability programme, which includes targets of ensuring all packaging is 100% recyclable or reusable, cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at manufacturing facilities in half and purchasing only renewable energy to power all of its plants.

P&G has already exceeded several of its 2020 goals early, such as reducing water use in manufacturing facilities by 20% against a 2010 baseline. GHG emissions have been cut by 16% in this time period, while more than 80% of global manufacturing sites have achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status, including all four UK & Ireland sites.

Sarah George

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