OVER 80 per cent of East Lancashire online fashion giant Boohoo's clothes are made from environmentally harmful new plastic, according to a study.

The Royal Society of Arts, which carried out the Fast Fashion's Plastic Problem study, says that this could have damaging consequences for the environment, with the production of new plastics requiring a large amount of energy and the bulk of such clothing destined for landfills.

The RSA says that 84 per cent of Burnley-based Boohoo's clothes contained new plastics, while 60 per cent were made entirely from them, respectively the second highest and highest of all the fast fashion companies surveyed.

Report co-author Josie Warden said: "The sheer volume of clothing produced by these websites is shocking, we should see many of these items, which go for rock-bottom prices, as akin to other short-lived plastics.

"The nature of fast fashion trends means they are not designed to have long lives in our wardrobes."

The report, which surveyed thousands of items of clothing across five different companies also found that only two per cent of Boohoo's clothes contained recycled plastic and comes just two years after a 2019 report found that Boohoo was among the least sustainable companies in the entire UK fashion industry.

Large amounts of new plastic has several environmental and social consequences including an increase in carbon emissions and an expansion of landfill sites.

The report has also drawn attention to the poor labour conditions involved in producing the plastics, in particular when Boohoo came under fire after it was revealed that Leicester-based suppliers were operating under ‘sweatshop’ conditions, with many remaining open despite a city-wide lockdown and workers reporting having to work while sick with Covid-19.

Ms Warden said: "These fabrics may be cheap at the point of sale, but they form part of a petrochemical economy which is fuelling run away climate change and pollution."

She added: "We can no longer use plastics to create poorly-made garments which are designed to be worn only a handful of times."

Boohoo however has said it's Upfront Strategy, published earlier this year, has set itself the goal of all polyester and cotton being recycled or more sustainable for 2025.

A spokesperson said: "Solutions to these complex challenges require collaboration which is why we are delighted with the response from our existing and new suppliers to help us identify innovative solutions to achieve this target.

"We are also an active member of the sustainable apparel coalition and a proud signatory of Textiles 2030.

"We’ve engaged with our customers extensively through focus groups and a recent survey, that received over 14,500 responses, to understand their attitudes to textile waste.

"What they tell us is that the price they pay does not determine how long they keep an item of clothing and 88 per cent said that they use either charity shops or resale sites as a responsible form of disposable, throwing an item away is an absolute last resort for them."