Fast Retailing continues to push sustainability, and its latest effort is aimed at single-use plastic, particularly carry bags.
The parent of Uniqlo revealed today that it aims to reduce the use of unnecessary plastic throughout its supply chain, beginning with single-use plastic handed to shoppers in the form of bags and product packaging. The goal is to cut such usage by 85 percent, or 7,800 tons a year, by the end of 2020.
Shoppers instead will receive eco-friendly paper bags — unless they bring their own. The initiative will begin this September and eventually stretch to all of Uniqlo’s 3,500 stores worldwide.
“‘Respect the Environment’ is one of Fast Retailing’s six priorities for sustainability, and the group is proceeding to eliminate all forms of waste and establish a business with minimal impact on the environment,” the company said in a statement. “Environmental pollution from plastic waste is a growing concern worldwide, and Fast Retailing is taking action to reduce unnecessary single-use plastic from its operations.”
Beginning in September, stores in 12 markets worldwide, including Japan, where plastic bags are used will begin switching to environmentally friendly paper bags made of Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper or recycled paper, Fast Retailing said. Markets where paper bags are currently used, such as in Europe, as well as other group brands including Theory, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Princesse Tam Tam and PLST that already use paper bags will begin switching to eco-friendly versions in September.
An example of Uniqlo’s new, more environmentally friendly paper bags.
In addition, Uniqlo and GU stores in Japan and abroad, as well as Comptoir des Cotonniers and Princesse Tam Tam stores will begin selling reusable bags in September. In addition, all Uniqlo and GU stores in Japan, as well as those of the two other brands, will begin charging for shopping bags at a price of 10 yen, plus tax, beginning Jan. 14, 2020. Uniqlo and GU stores in 16 markets, including in North America, Europe and Asia, will begin charging for bags from September.
Beyond bags, Fast Retailing aims to eliminate the use of plastic in packaging on certain items at Uniqlo, such as slippers, from the fall season. It also will begin verification testing with the goal to eliminate plastic packaging for Uniqlo and GU products such as HeatTech, AIRism and other inner wear beginning this summer.
Fast Retailing’s move to reduce the use of plastic comes as there is growing concern over the damage the material does to the environment. There have been steps by cities throughout the world to cut the availability of single-use plastic bags, while many restaurant chains also have begun to eliminate single-use plastic straws. Plastic does not biodegrade rapidly, and as it does many micro-plastic beads can leach into rivers and streams and, eventually, into the world’s oceans. There have been numerous cases of plastic micro-beads being found in the internal systems of sea life after they leaked into the world’s oceans.