Eco Buzz | Study Reveals Plastic Fibres Found in 83% of the World’s Tap Water, H&M Announces Goal to Be ‘Climate Positive’ By 2040

Home News Eco Buzz | Study Reveals Plastic Fibres Found in 83% of the World’s Tap Water, H&M Announces Goal to Be ‘Climate Positive’ By 2040
Eco Buzz | Study Reveals Plastic Fibres Found in 83% of the World’s Tap Water, H&M Announces Goal to Be ‘Climate Positive’ By 2040

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Plastic Fibres Are Found in 83% of the World’s Tap Water

Some 83 percent of the world’s tap water is contaminated by invisible plastic fibres, a new study commissioned by data journalism outlet Orb Media claims, leading to calls for urgent research on the effects of plastic pollution on human and environmental health.

Tap water samples were collected from over a dozen countries on five continents – from Europe to North America – and although there were variations in the amount of plastic fibres found in the tap water samples, 83 percent tested positive for microplastic contamination, the study revealed. The US recorded the highest microplastic contamination rate at 94 percent, with European nations such as Germany, UK and France with the lowest rates of contamination at around 72 percent.

The study also found six main sources of invisible plastics:

  1. Synthetics fibres in machine wash
  2. Tire dust residue in sewerage
  3. Paints finding its way on our oceans
  4. Plastic pollution in our oceans
  5. Synthetic fibres in the air
  6. Microbeads found in cosmetics

While previous research has focussed on human consumption of microplastics via contaminated seafood, this shocking research reveals the impact of the plastic pollution problem is far worse than first realised.

Plastic fibres found in 83% of the world's tap water

“This should knock us into our senses. We knew that this plastic is coming back to us through our food chain. Now we see it is coming back to us through our drinking water. Do we have a way out?” —Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of Grameen Bank

And if you think that bottled water will provide some safety, think again. A few samples of commercial bottled water tested positive for microplastic contamination as well. – Jennifer Nini

H&M Announces Its Goal to Be ‘Climate Positive by 2040 at Climate Week

Early this week, Daniel Kulle, President of H&M North America rang the bell at NASDAQ in New York City to officially kick off Climate Week. It was during this week that the H&M group also unveiled its goal of being ‘climate positive’ by 2040.

H&M Announces Goal to Be Climate Positive During Climate Week

The H&M group believes it can reach this goal by investing in natural carbon sinks such as rainforests and sustainable agriculture, technological innovations and reducing greenhouse gases outside its value chain. The company also announced its commitment to other sustainability-focussed goals including a climate neutral supply chain for tier 1–2 by 2030 and 100 percent renewable energy in its own operations.

The news is welcome. Climate change is an issue affecting the globe and how to navigate it is a challenge facing all industries, and particularly the fashion industry. That H&M – one of the largest and most financially successful fashion companies in the world – is committing to do business in a sustainable way is to be applauded.

H&M was founded in Sweden in 1947 and includes brands such as Cheap Monday, COS, Monki and Weekday in its growing brand portfolio. The H&M group has more than 4,400 stores in 66 markets including franchise markets, and employs more than 161,000 people worldwide. In 2016, sales including Value Added Tax (VAT) were approximately SEK 223 billion.

H&M Announces Goal to Be Climate Positive by 2040 During Climate Week
Credit: H&M

“We want to use our size and scale to lead the change towards circular and renewable fashion while making our company even more fair and equal. This is why we have developed a new strategy aiming to take our sustainability work to the next level,” says Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability at the H&M group.

We want to lead by example, pave the way and try new things –when it comes to both the environmental and social side – to ultimately make fashion sustainable and sustainability fashionable. Our climate positive strategy is one way of doing this.” – Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability at H&M

According to its media team, H&M’s use of renewable energy increased from 78 percent in 2015 to 96 percent in 2016 from 78 percent in 2015 and reduced its CO2 emissions by 47 percent compared to 2015.

That H&M has chosen this week to announce its ground-breaking commitment to sustainability has of coursed raised a few eyebrows. The Swedish fast fashion company’s publicity stunts are well-known: from its launch of its ‘Conscious Collection’ which represents a mere fraction of its retail offerings to last year’s partnering with M.I.A during World Recycling Week, discerning consumers aren’t fooled. Only time will tell whether the company is the real deal or just a greenwashing machine. – Jennifer Nini

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