The European Outdoor Group (EOG) and the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) have published a joint statement, on behalf of the outdoor sector, in response to national media coverage about microfibers and the sector. In a statement dated Feb. 15, the two organizations make specific reference to an article that appeared in The Sunday Times on Feb. 10 under the headline “National Trust launches hunt for the non-polluting fleece.” According to the EOG and the OIA, the article “made statements about trade associations and brands that do not accurately reflect the current status, nor the work that is being done to address the issue of microplastics.” The article, they explain, inferred that major brands in the outdoor sector are not addressing environmental issues seriously, in contrast with what the two associations describe as “a long history of successful collaboration on big issues including this one, which affect every organisation”.
The EOG was a founding member of the international Outdoor Industry Microfibre Consortium, now The Microfibre Consortium (TMC), and played a central role in developing a Cross Industry Agreement on the subject in 2017, the associations' statement explains. Furthermore, in the U.K., the OIA has been updating its members about the CSR and sustainability work that is being done on behalf of the sector on a regular basis, including the microfiber projects that the EOG is involved in.
According to the EOG and the OIA, The Sunday Times “failed to refer to the wider, substantial work of The Microfibre Consortium.” Jonathan Leake, the journalist who wrote the article, sent an email to the OIA on Feb. 8, requesting a response by Saturday morning, they explain. The OIA replied immediately referring to the work of the EOG and emphasizing the work done by the outdoor industry on the issue of microplastics, which is taken very seriously, the OIA explained in its reply.
Despite this fast response, the article that was published in The Sunday Times on Feb. 10 and then online, and subsequently shared by other national media, failed to reflect those points accurately, the two organizations explained in their statement. As for the headline of the newspaper article in question, the National Trust's search for a fleece product that does not shed microfibers is something the outdoor sector itself is already fully committed to, the two associations argue, adding that the National Trust is a member of the OIA, and thus party to that work.
The EOG and the OIA have urged The Sunday Times “to explore the subject more thoroughly by engaging fully with The Microfibre Consortium, the Cross Industry Agreement and the wider work being done by the EOG on behalf of the outdoor industry.” Representatives of the two organizations contacted the author of the article to express their disappointment. Leake suggested that they write letters to the editor.