A waste management expert says that Asda's announcement to make material for its products from used plastic and other clothes is a big step for sustainable fashion

Asda store

George has been the fashion arm of Asda since 1989.

Asda’s move to make some clothing lines and homeware from recycled plastic bottles and other materials is accelerating a sustainable change in fashion, according to an industry expert.

The major UK retailer announced this week that its fashion and accessories arm George will be selling products manufactured by recycled clothes and plastic bottles.

Waste management company SWRnewstar’s business development director Stephen Cameron says that major firms are starting to adapt their approach to help improve sustainability.

He said: “Asda, along with other retailers, have revealed great examples of how the industry is starting to adapt its approach and changed the way the industry is viewed.

“Asda’s move to encourage consumers to understand more about the sustainability of their clothing should be applauded – particularly using garment care labels to highlight ways to reduce environmental impact and promoting the reuse, recycling and repurposing of old items.”

How Asda is making recycled materials using plastic bottles

In an effort to improve its products’ ethical and environmental impacts, the UK supermarket will sell products made only from recycled polyester by 2025.

It has also committed to sourcing only sustainable viscose – a fabric used to make dresses – and cotton by the same year.

George, which has been Asda’s clothing arm since 1989, will release a range of cushions made from recycled plastic bottles, as well as blouses and dresses made from used clothing this summer.

Recycled materials using plastic bottles

In addition, the company is expected to publish a list of factories on its website used for the dyeing, printing and completing of the firm’s clothes, in an effort to be more transparent about its supply chain.

Asda commercial senior vice-president Nick Jones said: “As the second largest clothing retailer in the country, we have a responsibility to do the right thing by our customers, not only on the price and quality of our goods, but also on the impact we have on the world around us.

“Our George sustainability strategy builds on the work we’ve done to date and sets stretching targets and commitments to reduce the environmental and social impact of our products – because we know that, for our customers, looking after the environment is always in fashion.”

plastic waste material
George has been the fashion arm of Asda since 1989.

What impact does the fashion industry have on the environment?

The effect fashion and clothes have on the environment is well publicised.

Recycling charity WRAP says an estimated £140m worth of clothing goes into landfills in the UK each year.

plastic waste material
SCAP 2020 is a UK wide commitment from the fashion industry working alongside charity WRAP UK.

It is working with companies to change this through its Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP).

It’s an industry-led commitment to lower the amount of carbon and water used to manufacture products and how much of these go into landfills by 2020.

So far, over 80 organisations from across the UK, including Next and Primark, have signed up to the initiative.

Educating consumers on circular economy is key to achieving sustainability goals

Although Mr Cameron believes Asda’s recycled clothing plan is a significant step forward, he said the industry still needs to be more educated on the idea of the circular economy – in which a material is designed to be used and re-used.

plastic waste material
Stephen Cameron, business development director at waste management firm SWRnewstar

He believes the use of garment labels in particular will be key to evolving this concept through education.

“[It’s about] changing the thinking and subsequent behaviours of consumers and businesses,” he added.

“Achieving full circularity in the market is by no means easy – collaboration, innovation and new technology is also vital.

“While there is still a long way to go in terms of the materials being used in the fashion industry, more education needed.

“It’s really promising to see an increase in the number of retailers starting to place sustainability higher up their priority list.”