Fashion, textiles and sports

Most of the products sold in the Dutch fashion, textiles and sports industry come from abroad, which means that most packaging is also imported. Packaging is mainly used to protect the products during transport and thus prevent them from being damaged. Most retailers outsource logistics and therefore the use of packaging, but they do have an interest in making the packaging more sustainable. Companies want to and have to take responsibility, and sustainability can have a clear impact on a brand’s reputation.

Trends and challenges

KIDV has identified several important developments that affect packaging in this segment of the retail industry:

  • Online sales are increasing.

    There is an increase in the number of online sales in the sector. When shipping the purchase, additional packaging is often required. Think about the sustainability of the shipping packaging. Click here for more information on sustainability in the e-commerce sector.
  • Reusability and uniformity of transport packaging.

    Transport packaging is mainly cardboard export and distribution boxes, the pallets on which they are transported and the plastic film that is wrapped around them to hold the consignments together. Reusable plastic crates are also used for distribution. To make packaging more effective and save material, transport packaging is standardised and optimised. Wherever possible, reusable transport packaging is used in the Netherlands/Europe, for example pallets, crates and clothes hangers. Click here for more information on reusable packaging.
  • Using recycled material.

    Plastic bags are widely used in the sector. Besides protecting the products, they also serve to inform consumers and to display the products properly. Plastic clothes hangers, hooks, cardboard inserts, stickers and labels are also included in the packaging. Food packaging has to meet strict requirements, but the packaging in this sector does not have to meet these requirements. Therefore, these cardboard, paper and plastic packaging and packaging components lend themselves perfectly to the use of recycled materials. Set requirements for the products and packaging supplied by (foreign) suppliers.
  • Using biobased plastics.

    There are different types of bio-based plastics. Some bio-based plastics have the same molecular structure as fossil-based plastics. These can be mixed with fossil plastics in the recycling process and have the same properties, such as melting temperature or air permeability. An example of this is bio-PE, which is made from sugar cane and is used, for example, in HDPE bottles. There are also plastics made from renewable raw materials that have a different molecular structure than conventional, fossil-based plastics. As a result, they also have other properties; some variants are compostable, for example. Examples are PLA and starch. PLA is used in trays and foils, and starch in plastic bags. There are also new materials that are not compostable. Click here for more information about biobased and biodegradable packaging.
  • New packaging is designed to be optimally recyclable.

    When designing a packaging, consider its recyclability. KIDV has developed recycling checks for rigid plastic packaging and for flexible plastic packaging, and is currently developing them for other materials as well. The KIDV Recycle Check makes it relatively easy for you to assess whether your packaging is recyclable.
  • Separating commercial waste.

    The separation of industrial waste streams is the responsibility of companies themselves. In this sector, many products are unpacked before they are hung in the shop and sold to the consumer. Talk to a waste processor in your neighbourhood to discuss how you can deliver your waste streams separately, so that these streams can be recycled. Click here for the KIDV fact sheet on packaging waste from companies (only available in Dutch).
  • Reduced issue of carrier bags.

    Since 1 January 2016, the free distribution of plastic carrier bags has been banned in the Netherlands. This measure had a great impact on the fashion, textile and sports sectors, which often bring along purchases in a carrier bag. As a result of this measure, the number of plastic bags issued has decreased significantly. Make consumers aware of their influence on reducing the use of packaging, such as carrier bags. For example by asking 'Is this how you want it?' instead of 'Do you want a bag with it? The KIDV conducted research into the environmental impact of the various carrier bag materials.

Getting started with sustainable packaging

Anyone who starts working with sustainable packaging will often quickly discover that there is more to it than just using less or different material. To develop successful sustainable packaging, you have to look at the packaging process and logistics, at customers’ purchasing and disposal behaviour, and at your company’s packaging and sustainability strategy. For more information and tips, visit the KIDV Five Perspectives on Sustainable Packaging.

Sector organisations Inretail, Modint, and VGT have drawn up a 2019-2022 Industry Plan for Sustainable Packaging in close collaboration with KIDV. The plan sets out ambitions, objectives, and concrete measures to reduce the environmental impact of packaging, such as by using less material in packaging and by making packaging fully recyclable and reusable.

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