UK government rejects sustainability advice for ‘fast fashion’ industry

The UK government yesterday rejected a series of recommendations from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) to improve sustainability in the fashion industry.

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The EAC said ministers were “out of step with the public”, and that “urgent action” is needed to stop the fashion industry producing cheap clothes “that cost the earth”.

The cross-party group of MPs had suggested the government introduce a 1p tax on all new items of clothing, along with a ban on incinerating or landfilling unsold stock that can be recycled or reused.

In response, the government said it would consider a 1p tax when developing new extended producer responsibility schemes, but a consultation for these could run as late as 2025.

And a ban on landfilling or incinerating unsold recyclable stock was rejected outright, despite the UK sending 300,000 tonnes of clothes to landfill or incineration every year.

“Fashion producers should be forced to clear up the mountains of waste they create," said EAC chair Mary Creagh.

"The government has rejected our call, demonstrating that it is content to tolerate practices that trash the environment despite having just committed to net zero emission targets."

The EAC had also recommended the government introduce mandatory environmental targets for fashion retailers with a turnover above £36m, but this was also rejected.

Another proposal turned down included leveraging the tax system to shift the balances of incentives in favour of reuse, repair and recycling, rewarding responsible fashion companies.

Suggestions to take a more proactive approach enforcing the minimum wage, and to publish a publicly accessible list of retailers required to release a modern slavery statement, were also rejected.

“The public has a right to know that the clothes they buy are not produced by children or forced labour, however, the government hasn’t accepted our recommendations,” Creagh continued.

“This is plain wrong. The EAC will be closely monitoring steps that the government claims it is taking to address the problems exposed in our report.”


Image credit | iStock

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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