by Stephen Garner

As part of its effort to create a sustainable business with consideration for the environment, Fast Retailing has announced plans to eliminate the use of unnecessary plastic throughout its supply chain and to reduce the amount of single-use plastic handed to customers at its group stores worldwide, such as shopping bags and product packaging, by 85 percent, or around 7,800 tons annually, by the end of 2020.

“Respect the Environment” is one of Fast Retailing’s six priorities for sustainability, and the group is proceeding to eliminate all forms of waste and establish a business with minimal impact on the environment. Environmental pollution from plastic waste is a growing concern worldwide, and Fast Retailing is taking action to reduce unnecessary single-use plastic from its operations. This will help minimize the environmental impact of its business, while offering products and services customers can use with confidence.

From September 1, 2019, stores in 12 markets worldwide including Japan, where plastic shopping bags are currently in use, will begin switching to eco-friendly paper bags made of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper or recycled paper.

Stores in markets where paper shopping bags are currently in use, including Uniqlo stores in Europe, as well as group brands Theory, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Princesse tam.tam, and PLST, will begin switching to eco-friendly paper shopping bags from September 2019.

With the aim to reduce shopping bags, and to make effective use of resources including paper, all Uniqlo and GU stores in Japan and abroad, as well as Comptoir des Cotonniers and Princesse tam.tam stores worldwide, will begin selling branded eco-friendly reusable bags from September 2019.

To promote the use of reusable bags, all Uniqlo and GU stores in Japan will begin charging for shopping bags at a price of 10 yen (plus tax) per bag from January 14, 2020.

Uniqlo and GU in 16 markets across North America, Europe and Asia regions will charge for shopping bags after September 2019.

The retailer will also launch specific verification tests to eliminate plastic in product packaging and switch to substitute materials. It wants to eliminate the use of plastic in the packaging of certain items such as Uniqlo room shoes, from 2019 fall/winter season, as well as begin verification testing aimed at switching from plastic packaging for Uniqlo products such as HeatTech and AIRism to alternative materials, from summer 2019.

Going forward, Fast Retailing will continue to monitor the use of single-use plastic throughout its supply chain with the aim to eliminate all unnecessary plastic from its business.