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How One Company Takes the Plastic Out of Polybags

While the fashion industry keeps working toward higher sustainability standards in the fibers and fabrics that go into apparel, as well as better manufacturing methods, the move to improve packaging’s environmental impact is stepping up, too.

The latest move is from sustainable sourcing platform Supply Compass, which has launched a compostable packaging range for fashion brands.

The packaging is made from a corn-based biopolymer, which the company claimed is as durable as plastic. Supply Compass is offer the range as a customizable service on compostable polybags that it sees as an important way to tackle the issue of single-use plastic in the garment supply chain.

Based in London and Mumbai, Supply Compass is a design-to-delivery sourcing platform for fashion and interiors brands worldwide. Supply Compass’s packaging range includes eco mailers such as postal packaging for e-commerce brands, and polybags for supply chain packaging that are 100 percent compostable, making them a plastic-free packaging choice.

The bags, made from a corn-based biopolymer, are durable and waterproof. Once used, the bags can be put into a home compost, where they will break down in six months.

Supply Compass bags have been independently certified as “home compostable” and “biobased” by Vincotte and TUV Austria. Raw materials include PBAT (Polybutylene adipate terephthalate), which helps the bags to biodegrade quickly; Beneform, a bio-polymer made from either corn or tapioca, and PLA (polylactic acid) derived from renewable plant resources like corn, cassava, sugar cane or beets.

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“As a business, we see millions of single-use polybags being discarded on a regular basis, so we set out to tackle this,” Supply Compass co-founder Flora Davidson said. “Polybags are the plastic bags used in the distribution and delivery end of the supply chain to protect products. They’re lightweight, effective and cheap. But, unfortunately, their most common iteration is 100 percent plastic and difficult to recycle.”

Davidson noted that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s recent report, “The New Plastics Economy,” said plastic packaging is estimated at 26 percent of the total volume of plastics created a year, with 72 percent of this plastic packaging never incorporated back into the economy.

“As one of the only businesses to offer customizable, compostable polybags, we’re looking forward to helping instigate change within the garment supply chain,” she said.

With a shelf life of 12 months, the eco mailer and polybags come in various sizes and are customizable, so brands can use their own logo or words to make them their own. The bags have a minimum order of 3,000 units and a lead time of eight weeks.

Wolford recently updated its packaging to make it more environmentally friendly. The company, which designs and manufactures legwear, lingerie and bodywear, introduced packaging made from cellulose and wood, along with recycled cardboard, leaving only a small window of plastic. Similar initiatives have been undertaken by Hanes and H&M.

Earlier this year, Walmart introduced a comprehensive set of plastic waste reduction initiatives aimed at advancing the sustainability of its private-brand packaging. The new programs are expected to impact more than 30,000 SKUs and expand efforts to reduce plastic waste in Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club operations.

Overall goals include achieving 100 percent recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable packaging for its private brand packaging and targeting at least 20 percent post-consumer recycled content in private-brand packaging by 2025.

In September, Skechers said it had reduced the amount of plastic in its footwear packaging by 85 percent to just 10 percent of its foot forms since 2016. It’s part of a strategy to increase the use of sustainable packaging worldwide, with 99 percent of Skechers-branded shoeboxes meeting Forestry Stewardship Council standards for responsible sourcing and 94 percent are recyclable. All of the brand’s packaging materials are now printed with soy- or water-based inks.