In 2024, companies are on the verge of experiencing the repercussions of environmental pollution due to the growing significance of the “polluter pays” doctrine. Following the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh a decade ago, where over 1,000 underpaid workers lost their lives, companies like Shein, Boohoo, and Primark continue to manufacture inexpensive polyester clothing, contributing to landfill waste. The yearly accumulation of plastic waste, such as Coca-Cola bottles and Mars wrappers, surpasses 350 million metric tons. The approaching year is anticipated to witness a stringent crackdown on fossil fuel-based waste, challenging the prevalent use of plastic across various sectors, including food products and fashion.

Despite its perceived affordability, plastic becomes ten times more expensive when factoring in environmental costs like waste management and ecosystem harm. The annual cost burden, exceeding $3 trillion, falls on governments and consumers, not the plastic-producing companies, as revealed by the World Wildlife Fund. Proposed bills in California and the European Union suggest that textile and fashion companies must manage their products’ end-of-life responsibly or face waste management fees. This aligns with the “extended producer responsibility” concept, pivotal to a United Nations treaty aiming to eliminate plastic pollution by 2024. While the idea of holding polluters accountable gains traction, the full financial impact on companies and investors remains uncertain, especially given the urgent need to address climate change and environmental degradation.