Halloween costumes sold by UK retailers are set to generate more than 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste, equivalent by weight to 83 million bottles, according to new research from environmental charity Hubbub.
Research from Hubbub and the family nature charity Fairyland Trust found that Halloween costumes sold by 19 retailers, including Argos, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, will generate more than 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste.
The charities found that 324 Halloween clothing items from 19 retailers consisted of 83% oil-based plastic. Research by Hubbub estimated that 33 million people dressed up for Halloween in 2017, but 40% of costumes were worn just once.
The retailers surveyed were Aldi, Argos, ASOS, Amazon, Boden, Boohoo, Ebay, H & M, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Matalan, Next, PrettyLittleThing, Sainsburys, Tesco, TK MAXX, Topshop, Wilko and Zara.
According to the charities, the plastic waste generated it equivalent by weight to 83 million Coca-Cola bottles, more than one per person in the UK.
Hubbub’s chief executive Trewin Restorick said: “These findings are horrifying. The amount of plastic waste from Halloween costumes is similar to the weight of plastic waste generated at Easter in egg-wrappings.
“However the total plastic waste footprint of Halloween will be even higher once you take into account other Halloween plastic such as party kits and decorations, much of which are also plastic, or Halloween food packaging, most of which quickly becomes ‘rubbish’ and ultimately, breaks down to be plastic pollution. Retailers must take greater responsibility to offer ranges for seasonal celebrations that don’t worsen the already worrying impact of plastic waste on our planet.”
The survey found that polyester was the most common plastic polymer, accounting for 69% of all materials.
Hubbub is working with the All-Party Parliamentary Group, chaired by Anne Main MP, looking into the environmental sustainability of the fashion industry.
The two charities are calling on these costumes to either be reused or have a better environmental footprint.
Fashion show or horror show?
Fortunately, more fashion brands are stepping up to tackle circularity and incorporate recycled plastics into products.
Sportswear giant Adidas confirmed will produce more than twice as many pairs of trainers made using ocean plastic in 2019 than it did in 2018, as consumer demand for products and packaging-free from virgin plastic grows.
Asda’s fashion and homeware brand, George, will incorporate recycled plastic bottles in its products, as part of a commitment to only use polyester made from recycled materials by 2025.
Luxury fashion house Burberry has revealed designs for a new capsule collection made using recycled nylon, woven from plastic fibres recovered from discarded fishing nets.
Burberry is notably a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s ‘Make Fashion Circular’ initiative. Along with 17 other founding corporates, the brand has pledged to create business models which will keep garments in use, utilise materials which are renewable and find ways of recycling old clothes into new products.
A coalition of 32 big-name fashion firms including H&M Group, Inditex and Nike have signed an industry commitment targeting zero climate change and ocean impacts by mid-century.
The Fairyland Trust runs plastic-free nature events for families such as which includes a no-new-plastic Fancy Dress Competition.