Even though it is made of recycled plastic bottles, the fabric is the only sustainable feature of this product. LeSportsac does not provide any information regarding its production practice while its owner Itochu corporation manages it as an investment and therefore is not directly held accountable for the brand’s environmental footprint. I am extremely disappointed for the lack of transparency and for the fact that neither party has done anything for the basic sustainability reporting.
The LeSportsac ReCycled Maganizne Tote is claimed to be made using 5.3 recycled plastic bottles. Except for the zip closure and nylon top handles, the fabric of the majority of the bag is made by breaking plastic bottles into chips and then spinning them into yarn. This kind of fabric is also durable compared to many others and thus is a good fit for bags like this product to serve its purpose, which makes it true recycling instead of down-cycling.
However, the website for LeSportsac does not provide additional information on where the plastic bottles are collected from and how much energy it actually takes to produce and dye the fabric. I would be happy to see more use of materials made of recycled plastics, which can be one of the solutions to address plastic solutions in the ocean. Even if the plastic bottles aren’t directly collected from the ocean, using recycled plastic bottles before they enter the water body is worth to mention. Yet for their entire ReCycled collection, the website solely highlights the fact that the fabric is made of the recycled plastic bottles. I could not find any other information regarding how are the fabric dyed. Polyester is known for being extremely difficult to dye due to their unique properties, and this product also comes in another floral pattern which definitely require additional chemical wash to help with the dye to stay. Therefore, I will give 2/3 planets for the fabric, yet their lack of transparency makes me question if the brand is hiding the unsustainable aspect of this supposedly eco-friendly product and even leads to my suspicion of green-washing.
The product design is generally sustainable for its durability and the ability to be recycled, both of which can be attributed to the fabric. Recycled polyester made from plastics are generally recyclable without degraded quality. In terms of product production, LeSportsac again isn’t very straightforward with its manufacturing practice on their website. There is no information regarding where their products are manufactured or their labor practices, but my guess would be somewhere in China. LeSportsac is currently owned by Itochu, a Japanese corporation known for its textile business and successful business operation in China. Their lack of transparency really makes me question if the overall sustainability of this product and how this might be a part of the social justice issue on labor rights.
Itochu Corporation is a general trading company with business across sectors including textile, food, metals & minerals, energy, and chemical. Their business model makes its overall sustainability evaluation extremely complex and varies across its companies. Since the group purchased LeSportsac in 2011 when the company had already had a mature brand and solid structure, it seems like Itochu is not directly governing the production process of LeSportsac products but more like managing it as part of the investment portfolio. The corporation provides resources to help with product distribution and brand expansion. Therefore, I don’t think the environmental impact of LeSportsac is reflected in Itochu’s ESG reports while the company itself provides little to none information on its footprint. LeSportsac really should conduct internal investigation and publish its finding for its progress toward sustainability while Itochu as the owner should be held accountable for its investment choices.