Fashion and packaging have one thing in common: both rely heavily on plastics. Oil and gas companies look to plastics as a key area of growth. Global plastic production doubled since 2000, to reach an astonishing 460 million metric tonnes – per year. This means that more plastics have been produced in the past 20 years than in the five decades following World War II. The environmental costs are enormous: scientists have found microplastics in places few humans have visited, like the deep sea and the Arctic, in drinking water, and the placenta of pregnant women.
According to a recent OECD report, packaging accounts for 40% of plastic waste, while 11% comes from clothing and textiles, and 12% from consumer goods. Only 9% of plastic waste is recycled; the rest either accumulates in landfills, uncontrolled dumpsites or incineration plants.
Withing this context, experts at the online event “Forests for sustainable lifestyles and a circular economy” organized by the Joint UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section to celebrate the International Day of Forests 2022, provided evidence that things can be done differently: Forests can offer solutions to reduce the fashion and packaging industries’ reliance on non-renewable materials. The journey to sustainability will rely on new technologies and the engagement to move from a linear, plastic-based economic model to a sustainable circular economy. Forests are therefore a key resource in the shift towards renewable and biodegradable solutions as wood can be used for diverse purposes, with lower environmental impacts than many alternative materials.
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