The drive towards environmental sustainability appears to have lost momentum since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic as goals such as sustainable production and recycling have taken a back seat. Instead, companies are focusing on developments which enhance personal protection and help to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as antiviral materials. However, it would appear that the pandemic has prompted consumers to seriously consider the environmental impacts of their spending habits—particularly in relation to fashion products.

Indeed, a study conducted among consumers by the consultancy McKinsey & Company has highlighted that consumer spending on fashion is changing and consumers are engaging with sustainability more than ever before. In this report, Robin Anson discusses some of the environmental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the waste mountains of discarded personal protective equipment (PPE) which are being created around the world. He also addresses the growing environmental impact of face coverings discarded by consumers. In addition, he analyses some of the findings of the McKinsey & Company consumer study, including shifts in purchasing behaviour, the recent surge in online shopping and consumer views on fashion cycles.