A new study states fast fashion is tipping into marketing it again but may do little to lower emissions

September 27, 2023: Fast-fashion retailers like Zara, Shein, and H&M have been utilizing resale platforms as part of their sustainability efforts to reduce their carbon footprints. However, a recent study released on Tuesday suggests that these resale programs may have a limited impact on emissions

 reduction. According to the analysis, these brands could achieve more substantial environmental benefits by directing their efforts toward improving their supply chain sustainability, including the use of eco-friendly fabrics and investment in recycling innovations.

The study was conducted by Trove, a company that assists brands like Lululemon and Canada Goose in implementing resale programs, and Worldly, a data analytics firm specializing in ESG issues. The methodology was validated by third-party experts and reviewed by Deloitte, McKinsey, and the University of California, Berkeley.

The research examined five brand categories, from fast fashion to premium apparel, and assessed how resale programs could impact their overall carbon emissions from 2023 to 2040. Notably, the study found that fast-fashion retailers, known for producing approximately 11.5 kilograms (25.3 pounds) of carbon dioxide per item, would only reduce their emissions by a mere 0.7% through resale

initiatives. In contrast, premium apparel brands, like Tory Burch and Ralph Lauren, which generate roughly 16 kilograms of CO2 per item, could cut their emissions by 14.8% with resale programs. Outdoor brands, such as Patagonia and the North Face, producing about 12.5 kilograms of CO2 per item, could achieve a 15.8% reduction in emissions.

These projections account for decreased production of new items, contributing to emission reductions. At the same time, companies can offset lower sales of new products by generating revenue from reselling pre-owned items. Many companies across various sectors have been introducing resale programs to attract sustainability-conscious consumers and demonstrate their commitment to environmental responsibility, especially in anticipation of new ESG reporting requirements from regulatory bodies like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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