MPs call for 1p charge on new clothes to tackle waste

Fashion retailers should be charged one penny for each new item of clothing they produce to help fund recycling and waste collections in the UK, MPs have said today.


The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) warned in a report that ‘fast fashion’ business models are encouraging over consumption, generating excessive waste, and destroying the environment.

The cross-party group of MPs also urged the government to reform taxation so companies are rewarded for offering repairs and cutting the environmental impact of their products.

Moreover, retailers with a turnover above £36m should be subject to mandatory environmental targets, the EAC said, while designing, creating, mending and repairing clothes ought to be taught in schools.

“Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth,” committee chair, Mary Creagh, said. “Our insatiable appetite for clothes comes with a huge social and environmental price tag: carbon emissions, water use, chemical and plastic pollution.

“Retailers must take responsibility. That means asking producers to pay for the end of life process for their products through a new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme.”

The report highlights how the UK consumes more clothes per person than any other country in Europe, with over a million tonnes of garments worth £140m going to landfill every year.

This comes after the EAC revealed that a group of retailers including Amazon UK, JD Sports and TK Maxx are failing to adequately promote environmental sustainability and protect their workers.

The MPs said that a “voluntary approach has failed”, with just 10 major fashion brands signed up to initiatives to reduce their water, waste and carbon footprints.

In addition to tax reform and a 1p charge on new clothes, the EAC said ministers should introduce a ban on the incineration or landfilling of unsold stock that can be reused or recycled.

The government should also publish a publicly accessible list of companies required to release a modern slavery statement, and punish those that fail to comply, the MPs said.

“Fashion retailers have 'chased the cheap needle around the planet', commissioning production in countries with low pay and little trade union representation,” Creagh continued.

“Company law must be updated to require modern slavery disclosures by 2022. Companies must report, or face a fine.” 


Image credit | iStock 

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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