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Brands escalate efforts around microplastics

Pink and gold glitter encased in capsules
Alena Shekhovtcova/Pexels
Feb 11, 2022 By WGSN Insider
Updates from WGSN

Brands and retailers are ramping up their work around microplastics, including cutting out non-sustainable sequins and glitter.

Sequins and glitter are losing their sparkle with fashion brands. According to WGSN’s proprietary data, there has been a consistent and continuous decline in the use of glitter and sequins within women’s apparel since January 2020 – a decline of 30% overall in December 2021. In apparel, dresses’ mix dropped by 30% YoY, while tops’ mix dropped by 29% YoY.

UK fashion retailer Boden is one of the first major brands to stop its use of sequins and glitter following customer feedback and as part of its drive to keep as much plastic out of the oceans as possible. It is seeking alternative embellishments for its garments. Startups such as The Sustainable Sequin Company, which uses recycled polyester, are also growing in interest.

The move comes as schools and pupils start to take action, with several in the UK banning non-biodegradable glitter.

Sequins in test tube bottles
Elena Mozhvilo/Unsplash

Looking to the future

“Sequin and glitter currently offer very few scaleable sustainable alternatives,” says Helen Palmer, Head of Materials, Textiles & Knit at WGSN. “Although sparkle has become a staple within partywear, as consumers begin to understand the environmental impact of microplastic embellishment, brands will be challenged to justify its extensive use and we are likely to see its continued decline within apparel.”

Microplastics in beauty

The beauty industry is also fast tackling microplastics. French perfume manufacturer Sozio has developed a natural Cosmos-certified encapsulation technology. Dubbed Cosmocaps, this alternative to synthetic microcapsules eliminates microplastics from formulations while providing the cosmetic benefits.

Image of Sozio's Cosmocaps
Cosmocaps, Sozio’s alternative to synthetic microcapsules/Sozio

Tackling the issue with tech

South Korean tech giant Samsung used its CES 2022 keynote presentation to explain its Everyday Sustainability initiatives, including a project with fashion brand Patagonia to work on an effective way of capturing microplastics released from textiles and laundry.

WGSN subscribers can read the full Sustainability Bulletin: February 2022 here. For more updates on cross-industry sustainability advances, see The rise of sustainable gift packaging and Circular retail destinations empower consumers to shop differently.

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