Eliminate, Innovate, Circulate: How Primark Is Eliminating Single-use Plastic - Primark Cares

Eliminate, Innovate, Circulate

What’s up with the End of SUP?

The world has already seen significant progress towards reducing plastic usage in everyday life: Whether it’s paying for plastic bags at supermarkets in some countries or how paper-based straws in restaurants are now the norm, we’ve come a long way but have more to do.

At Primark, we first started on this road back in 2009 when we began offering customers our famous brown paper bags made from 100% recycled materials and 100% recyclable.

We’re going to keep working hard on reducing our use of plastic and becoming more sustainable in many other ways too because we know that our great fashion at affordable prices shouldn’t come at a high cost to the planet.

How Primark Is Eliminating Single-use Plastic

That’s why we’ve committed to eliminating single-use plastic packaging from our business by 2027.

We’re already on our way: In 2020 alone, we removed just over 186 million units of plastic from our business, and in 2021 we have removed another 316 million.

Our approach to doing - and continuing - this important work is influenced by a guided framework for businesses and governments set out by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This is centred around a few key principles:

Eliminate unnecessary plastic items

At Primark, this means rethinking how we design products, developing more circular business models, and introducing new shopping experiences in our stores. We have already started this journey by eliminating the use of hangers in some of our product ranges. We’re also changing how we design clothes and labels – for example, by optimising tags to display more information in less space, which uses less material. As a result, since 2019 we have managed to remove 503 million items of single-use plastic from our business.

Innovate so all plastic we do need is designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted

At Primark, this means working with our suppliers to increase the recycled content used in our packaging and moving to more sustainable alternatives, such as using cardboard display hangers in-store instead of plastic hangers.

Circulate all the plastic items we use to keep them in use and not thrown away as waste.

At Primark, this means looking at ways that we can adopt more circular business models in our offices, stores and logistic centres to keep our packaging in use for longer.

We’re not stopping here though - our commitment to change stretches across every part of our business and supply chain.

Smarter Stores Through Better Tech

As an international fashion retailer with more than 395 stores in 14 countries, it is important to us that we reduce the environmental impact of our stores as much as possible. This ranges from making stores more energy efficient to managing the amount of non-fashion waste they produce.

For example, we’re making sure our point-of-sale (POS) materials are recyclable and made from recycled materials wherever possible.

A More Sustainable Organisation – At Scale

When it comes to our business, we can have a big impact with every change we make because of our size and scale. This scale has helped our packaging optimisation programme cut CO2 emissions across our business, and our partners too, simply because less packaging is being produced, transported, and processed as waste.

All of this is a continuation of the work we’ve been doing to become a more sustainable business for over a decade now, and hopefully gives us a strong foundation to keep building on for the next 10 years, too.