G-Star RAW launches scheme to halt plastic pollution in oceans

Designer clothing company G-Star RAW has joined forces with marine pollution campaign group the Plastic Soup Foundation in an effort to prevent microfibres creating plastic pollution in the world's oceans.

Following the success of the ‘RAW for the Oceans’ collections partnership with music star Pharrell Williams – which saw G-Star create jeans from ocean plastic waste, the Dutch designer is now looking to entirely replace the polyester used throughout its collections with recycled plastic.

By 2020, G-Star aims to use 100% recycled material as an alternative to conventional polyester, which accounts for around 10% of the materials used in the firm’s collection.

G-Star corporate responsibility director Frouke Bruinsma said: “With RAW for the Oceans, we were the first to make denim from recycled ocean plastic and we are now starting to completely replace the 10% conventional polyester in our collection with recycled plastic.

“We want to continue to create progress through sustainable innovation and join forces with the Plastic Soup Foundation to battle the microfiber problem. Only a strong alliance of dedicated stakeholders around the world can turn the tide. Everyone is welcome to join us.”

Industry leaders

G-Star and the Plastic Soup Foundation are now urging other fashion companies and the textile industry to support the international ‘Ocean Clean Watch’ scheme, which seeks to develop innovative solutions that could prevent the release of plastic fibres from garments in the future.

The director of the Plastic Soup Foundation has hailed G-Star as the first fashion brand to “recognise and support the need for innovation” in the sector. Maria Westerbos said: “Leading European research recently showed that a fleece releases an incredible one million microfibers every time it is washed.

“If you imagine that, every day, a couple of billion people around the world wash their clothing, and that almost every item of clothing contains plastic nowadays, you can easily see why it is imperative to deal with this cause of the plastic soup immediately.”

The battle against microfibre fits into G-Star’s own sustainability strategy, which the firm says prioritises the social and environmental aspects of product manufacturing.

Since 2014, plastic bags in all G-Star stores worldwide have been replaced with paper bags made from FSC certified paper, enabling the label to reach an annual reduction of more than 1.5 million plastic bags – accounting for approximately 70,000kg of plastic.

G-Star is also committed to eliminating industrial releases of hazardous chemicals into the environment and has set the target to reach zero discharge of hazardous chemicals (ZDHC) from all products and production processes by 2020.

Green Carpet Challenge

Sustainability in the fashion industry has recently attracted media publicity thanks to a number of new initiatives gaining the support of iconic brands and high-profile figures. At the 2016 Met Gala, celebrities such as Emma Watson, Lupita Nyong’o and Margot Robbie wore Calvin Klein Collection to take the ‘Green Carpet Challenge’, championing sustainable fashion. Watson’s dress was made from a fabric uniquely designed from used plastic bottles sourced, processed and spun into yarns exclusively in Italy.

This pledge from G-Star RAW also follows on from an innovative plastic waste project from fellow Dutch firm Interface, which saw the carpet tile manufacturer, join forces with a ‘plastic fishing’ company to design and create a unique boat made from more than 7,000 plastic bottles fished from the canals of Amsterdam.

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George Ogleby

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