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Fast Retailing to shift to sustainable shopping bags, product packaging

Japanese fast-fashion company Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. plans to shift from plastic shopping bags and product packaging to paper and biodegradable plastic alternatives throughout its roughly 2,000 stores worldwide, the Nikkei Asian Review reported Jan. 5.

"Sustainability is the biggest challenge for all types of companies," Fast Retailing President, Chairman and CEO Tadashi Yanai said to his team, according to the newspaper.

The company, which manufactures clothing brands under the Uniqlo, GU, Comptoir des Cotonniers and Theory brands, has started testing sustainable materials to support the move, taking into account an increase in expenses and the impact of the materials on the environment, the news outlet said.

The retailer is also reviewing the plastic packaging of its signature products, such as Heattech undergarments, the Nikkei added.

Majority of Fast Retailing's global stores, including the 830 in its home market of Japan, use plastic bags, according to the report.

The Japanese company's vision follows similar initiatives by global fashion giants, including Zara owner Industria de Diseño Textil SA and Sweden's H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB, which, in October 2018, joined a global commitment to eliminate plastic waste and switch to sustainable packaging by 2025. Around the same time, Fast Retailing developed a jeans-washing technology that cuts water usage by an average of over 90% and a maximum of 99%.