UNECE is making a call to the World of Sports, including sports events’ organizers, committees, athletes, sportswear brands, producers and consumers to help advance circularity and sustainability in sports clothing.
The Forests4Fashion Sports Challenge aims to encourage the reuse of sportswear where possible, and promote the use of renewable fibres in sports fashion. These should meet the highest available standards for production and sourcing from sustainably managed and certified forests and other sustainable sources. The Challenge was launched today at the Made in Forest event of Rencontres Romandes du Bois conference taking place in Lausanne, at the premises of the International Olympic Committee.
UNECE Executive Secretary Ms. Olga Algayerova stressed that: “given their reach and public exposure, there is an immense opportunity for sports event organizers, national and international sports federations but also individual athletes and sportswear manufacturers to lower their environmental footprint by choosing renewable materials instead of plastics. Materials that do not shed microplastic fibers which eventually end up in our oceans, have a lower carbon and water footprint.”
Sportswear tends to be made of polyester and cotton, for their moisture absorbent properties and elasticity, their wide availability and low cost. However, both come with significant environmental challenges. Polyester is one of the most commonly used plastics. It is derived from petroleum and the majority of it is not biodegradable, ending up as microplastic fibres in the oceans. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it is estimated that every year around half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres – equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles – resulting from the washing of textiles are released into the oceans. Cotton, on the other hand, is a highly water- and pesticide intensive crop that competes with food production on increasingly scarce arable land.
But alternatives exist and are already available. As derivatives of wood pulp and other natural plant materials, forest fibres (also called man-made cellulosic fibres) can play an important role in regenerating ecosystems. They could substantially contribute to making circular fashion a reality - together with new recycling and material innovations and regulatory frameworks.
Watch the video: UNECE launches the Forests4Fashion Sports Challenge
About the Forests4Fashion initiative: https://unece.org/forests/forests-fashion