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ASOS sets out ambitious targets on plastic packaging

Lauretta Roberts
17 December 2019

ASOS has become a signatory to Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, a global initiative rallying more than 400 businesses and governments behind a positive vision of a circular economy for plastics, to ensure it never becomes waste or pollution.

Signatories commit to three actions to realise this vision: eliminate all problematic and unnecessary plastic items; innovate to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable; and circulate all the plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment.

As a result ASOS has pledged to:

  • eliminate 50% of ASOS’ own-brand packaging by 2025, against a 2018 baseline;
  • carry out a reusable packaging trial in 2020, testing a bespoke prototype mailing bag ASOS has been developing for the past year;
  • make sure all of its packaging is 100% recyclable "in practice" (at present it is "in principle"), accounting for local recycling infrastructure constraints;
  • and work to further encourage customers to return packaging back to the retailer, so it can recycle it into new ASOS packaging through a system introduced this year to "close the loop" on packaging.

These commitments follow the work that ASOS has already completed on its plastic mailing bags, which are 100% recyclable and made from 25% recycled material, transitioning to 65% recycled material in 2020. It has also pledged to take a shared leadership approach within the e-commerce sector in order to advance industry best-practice.

Simon Platts, Responsible Sourcing Director at ASOS, said: “We’ve been working hard to reduce our use of plastic across ASOS, including investing in developing our ASOS mailing bags, which will contain 65% recycled material in the new year and are already 100% recyclable.

"However, there’s always more we can do, which is why we’ve become a signatory of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy Global Commitment. This formalises our commitment to reducing our use of plastic, through measures such as increasing the amount of used ASOS bags we recycle into new packaging and introducing a reusable packaging trial in the early months of 2020.”

Sander Defruyt, Lead of the New Plastics Economy initiative at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said: “The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment unites businesses, governments and others behind a clear vision of a circular economy for plastic. We are pleased ASOS is joining us, by setting concrete 2025 targets.

"Our vision is for a world where plastic never becomes waste or pollution. It will be a challenging journey, but by coming together we can eliminate the plastics we don’t need and innovate, so the plastics we do need can be safely and easily circulated – keeping them in the economy and out of the environment.”

A recent study of 3,000 fashion shoppers in the UK, US, France and Germany, carried out by in partnership with Avery Dennison, revealed that 54% of shoppers overall said they would be more likely to shop with an online retailer which offered sustainable packaging and delivery solutions.

Avery DennisonEntitled Conscious E-commerce: Driving Loyalty Through Sustainable Packaging, the report also revealed that 63% of consumers thought that the sustainable credentials of the packaging their e-commerce order is important to them, almost as many of those who believe the sustainable credentials of they clothing they buy is important (at 68%). More than 40% said they would pay extra for a plastics-free delivery option.

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