Primark wants to become more sustainable, but ‘we have to buy less clothes in the end’

“Ultimately, we will have to buy less clothing, which is better and therefore more expensive,” says Natascha van der Velden, researcher at the Faculty of Industrial Design at TU Delft.

It is thus responding to the intention of the Irish retail chain Primark to become more sustainable. Even today, many consumers think of the Primark name as large racks of extremely cheap clothing that you may only wear a few times.

But Primark wants to change that. By 2025, the clothing must be able to last longer, two years later Primark clothing must be recyclable and by 2030 all clothing that it will make must be recycled or more sustainable.

As a result, CO2 emissions in the entire chain from supplier to consumer must be halved. Primark also wants to have banned the use of single-use plastic by 2027 and it wants employees at suppliers to be paid better.

Costs will only rise modestly, Primark believes, and the company expects that will not detract from profits. Primark believes that the measures will increase turnover, also by attracting new customers.

‘Less, but more expensive clothing’

“There are plenty of techniques and materials that can ensure that clothing lasts much longer,” says Van der Velden. But she doesn’t think we can avoid the fact that consumers will buy less clothes.

That clothing will be of a better quality and therefore more expensive, she thinks.

‘Sustainable clothing is already in your closet’

“But most sustainable clothing is already in your wardrobe,” says Van der Velden. If something in your clothing breaks, you don’t have to replace it right away, she says.

Yet the responsibility for sustainable clothing also lies with the parties that make and market it, says Van der Velden. “They can become more sustainable.”

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