The Problem with Plastic
Marine plastic pollution has increased 10-fold in less than 30 years, and global production of plastic has increased more than 200-fold since 1950. In 2015, the world produced more than 380 million tons of plastic. This is roughly equivalent to the mass of 2/3 of the world population. Around half of the plastic produced is discarded without energy recovery or recycling. Packaging is the dominant form of plastic waste (around 42% of the total waste). The plastic waste most at risk of entering the oceans is generated in coastal populations (within 50 km of the coastline), usually overwhelmed by tourism or population growth and where the location doesn’t have an infrastructure to take care of the plastic waste. In addition, much of the plastic pollution found at sea is coming from ropes and nets from the fishing industry. It is estimated that around 8 million tons of plastic waste is entering the ocean annually.
What we’re doing about plastic
By increasing the value of plastic and by demanding the use of recycled material, we can support the reduction of both plastic being discarded and plastic causing pollution in our environment. For example, we are applying recycled material in over 70% of our insulations and from 2021, we are introducing recycled plastic in the bags used to ship the products. Since 2018, Helly Hansen has engaged in the Single Use Plastic project with over 30 other brands and retailers who aim to work together to significantly reduce the impact of single-use plastic in our industry. During the project, we have reviewed alternative materials to plastic, life time and life cycle of packaging bags, waste handling and end-of-life scenarios. Up until now, the best solution seems to be a recycled polybag which can also be collected for recycling.
In addition to big-plastic, we have a challenge related to microplastics. Helly Hansen is engaging in both research and development of alternative constructions and materials which can reduce and ideally eliminate microfibre pollution. We are finally at a stage where the industry has a testing method which can be used to compare fiber release from different constructions and textiles. Read more about how Helly Hansen is tackling microfiber pollution.