Fast fashion returns travel up to 10,000 km, says Greenpeace

Fast fashion returns travel up to 10,000 km, says Greenpeace

E-commerce appears to be very polluting and often lead products, apparently, accidentally travel long distances, as already acknowledged by recent surveys.

Greenpeace Italy has also highlighted this problem and the huge negative consequences for the environment through a recent survey that highlighted how quickly fashion brands’ e-commerce returns can travel up to 10,000 km for a single order.

These are the results of a report carried out by tracking the movement of clothes and packages of clothes returned several times traveling up to tens of thousands of kilometers between Europe and China, at no cost to the buyer and at negligible cost to the manufacturing company. but with great damage to the environment.

The Greenpeace Investigative Unit in Italy has carried out a study lasting almost two months, in collaboration with RAI 3’s Italian TV program “Raport”, tracing the journeys made by a number of garments in the fast fashion sector bought and returned through e-commerce platforms. .

Greenpeace Italia presented all the results in a report presented recently by the TV program and entitled “Street fashion. The hidden cost of going online: thousands of turns of fast fashion polluting the planet”.

To conduct the investigation, 24 fast fashion clothing items were purchased on the e-commerce platforms of Amazon, Temu, Zalando, Zara, H&M, OVS, Shein and Asos.

Greenpeace study

Greenpeace study

Before making the returns, Greenpeace and Report hid a GPS tracker in each dress, thus managing to trace its movements, discover the means of transport used and study the supply chain of the sellers.

In 58 days, the packages together traveled about 100,000 kilometers through 13 European countries and China. On average, the distance traveled by products for delivery and return was 4,502 kilometers. The shortest route was 1,147 km, the longest was 10,297 km.

The most used means of transport were trucks, followed by airplanes, vans and ships. All 24 garments have been sold and resold a total of 40 times, with an average of 1.7 sales per garment, and have been returned up to 29 times. To date, 14 out of 24 garments (or 58%) have not yet been resold.

Chart showing the journey of a returned item

Chart showing the journey of a returned item

Looking at individual companies, all of Temu’s clothing was shipped from China, has traveled more than 10,000 kilometers (mostly by air) and, to date, none has been reported to have returned to the seller’s possession after the first return.

Two outfits from Asos have traveled an average of over 9,000 kilometers transiting up to ten European countries.

Asos, Zalando, H&M and Amazon topped the list for the average number of resales at 2.25 times, while 100% of clothing returned to Temu, OVS and Shein were not resold.

“Our survey confirms how the ease with which returns can be made in the fast fashion sector, almost always at no cost to the customer, generates hidden and very significant environmental impacts,” said Giuseppe Ungherese, Greenpeace’s head of pollution campaigning. in Italy.

Chart showing the journey of a returned item

Chart showing the journey of a returned item

“While some European nations have already passed laws to curb or prevent the destruction of returns, the same cannot be said for the practice of facilitated returns, which encourages the compulsory purchase of disposable clothing, with dire consequences for the planet. ” added the Hungarian.

To compile this survey, Greenpeace collaborated with Indaco2, an Italian start-up that calculated the estimated emissions produced by the transport and packaging of clothing.

The average environmental impact of the transport of each order and return corresponds to 2.78 kg of CO2, of which the value of the packaging accounts for about 16%.

An average of 74 g of plastic and 221 g of cardboard were used to pack each package. For an average pair of jeans weighing 640g, shipping the garment ordered and returned corresponds to an increase of about 24% in CO2 emissions. The estimated average cost of fuel for transportation is €0.87.

According to Greenpeace Italia, the online clothing sector is among the most important in Italian Business-to-Consumer (B2C) e-commerce. However, only three percent of fashion is circular and only one percent of new clothes are made from old clothes, while every second a truckload of clothing ends up in a landfill or incinerator.

According to the organization, the fashion industry is among the most polluting production sectors because it uses large amounts of raw materials. In the EU alone, textile consumption is the fourth largest sector in terms of environmental and climate impact, and the third largest in terms of water and land consumption. Every year in the EU, 5.8 million tons of textiles are thrown away, about 12 kg per person.

Greenpeace study

Greenpeace study

Globally, textile production and consumption doubled from 2000 to 2015 and could triple by 2030.

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