Vogue Business/ George Arnett/ November 29, 2019

The vast majority of materials on earth will biodegrade. The problem is that some, like plastic, will take a millennium to disappear.

So what does it mean when a product is labelled as ā€œbiodegradableā€? It suggests it biodegrades relatively quickly, but the speed depends on who is being asked. Naturally occurring fabrics like cotton and wool tend to break down quicker than manufactured fabrics like polyester, although certain polymers, like rayon, are an exception.

Fashion is starting to pay attention to what constitutes biodegradability. Around 4 per cent of worldwide waste in 2015 came from the fashion industry, according to a 2017 Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group report, and producing more clothing with man-made fibres looks set to only add to that.

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