Fashion retailers told to pay 1p per item to fund better waste collection

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
Around 300,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in household bins every year with around 80% of this incinerated and 20% sent to landfill

Retailers should pay 1p per item to fund a better fashion waste collection, says a new Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) report.

Money raised from the charge could pay for better clothing collection and recycling, the Fixing Fashion claimed.

It also pushed for changes to taxation which would reward companies that offer clothing repairs and reduce the environmental footprint of their products.

Although the EAC recognised that some parts of the fashion industry were making progress in reducing their carbon and water consumption, it argued these improvements have been outweighed by the increased volumes of clothing sold.

This led to a suggestion that all retailers with a turnover of more than £36m should sign up to WRAP’s Sustainability Clothing Action Plan (SCAP)

Around 300,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in household bins every year with around 80% of this incinerated and 20% sent to landfill.

Mary Creagh, EAC chair, said: “Our insatiable appetite for clothes comes with a huge social and environmental price tag: carbon emissions, water use, chemical and plastic pollution are all destroying our environment.

“Fashion retailers must take responsibility for the clothes they produce. That means asking producers to consider and pay for the end of life process for their products through a new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme.”

Creagh also said children should be shown how to make and mend clothes at school as an antidote to anxiety and the mental health crisis in teenagers.

Textile production creates an estimated 1.3bn tonnes of CO2 per year, which is more than international flights and maritime shipping combined.

The report also called on ministers to explore how they can support a new sharing economy with hiring, swapping or subscription clothes services.

Alan Wheeler, director of the Textile Recycling Association (TRA), welcomed its findings.

He said: “By just putting a levy of 1p on each new garment sold in the UK, we could raise £35 million pounds annually, which could fund much needed research and development projects to establish new textile recycling processes and new markets.”

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