Developing sustainable fabrics, boosting textile recycling and bringing textile manufacturing jobs back to the UK are some of the key recommendations put forward in a new parliamentary report compiled by behaviour change charity Hubbub on sustainable fashion.
As part of the charity’s Greenprint for a Better Britain, a manifesto designed to ensure the UK’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is green and sustainable, Hubbub has produced a new report on sustainable fashion for Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion, entitled ‘Making the UK a global leader in sustainable fashion’.
Like most industries, the fashion industry has experienced severe disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with supply chains broken, sales plummeting and companies going bust. Lockdown has also given consumers pause for thought, with many now wanting to see a sustainable turn in the industry.
Hubbub’s report for the Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion APPG includes responses to a survey carried out with members of the public, with 65 per cent of UK residents agreeing that the UK Government needs to act urgently to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry.
Unsustainable fashion practices – the make, take, dispose model often labelled ‘fast fashion’ – result in more than £140 million of clothing being sent to landfill every year, with 300,000 tonnes of clothing ending up in household bins. While 20 per cent of this goes to landfill, 80 per cent is incinerated, contributing to a projected rise in industry CO2 emissions of 2.8 billion tonnes by 2030.
Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) previously produced a report called ‘Fixing Fashion’ in 2019, which called for policies such as a one pence producer responsibility fee to be paid by fashion brands and retailers on each item of clothing they sell to fund better textile waste collection.
However, the government rejected this and other recommendations, claiming that the rest were covered in its Resources and Waste Strategy.
The new report calls on the government to:
- Invest in research and development to create more sustainable fabrics that have a lower environmental and social impact – backed by 66 per cent of the public.
- Boost investment in UK fabric recycling facilities to create a more circular economy – backed by 73 per cent of the public.
- Support new start-up businesses operating more green business models – backed by 74 per cent of the public.
- Invest in skills to bring more clothes manufacturing jobs back to the UK – backed by 72 per cent of the public
- Support industry to create clearer information and labelling about the sustainability of clothes helping to educate consumers about their everyday choices and force companies to change their approach – backed by 64 per cent of the public.
Launching the report Catherine West MP, Chair of the APPG, said: “Coronavirus has exposed deep inequalities and unsustainability in the garment industry. Creating a sustainable and ethical future for the fashion industry is an important but complex challenge for government, industry and the public and what is clear is that there is an appetite for this on all sides. We must seize this moment and put these recommendations into action by pushing the government to be a global leader, helping to build a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry, both within the UK and globally”.
Trewin Restorick, Founder and CEO of Hubbub, added: “Now is the time for government intervention to fix fast fashion and force companies to change their approach. We hope both the government and the fashion industry will act with urgency on the recommendations of the APPG, which are backed by the UK public. As we’ve set out in our Greenprint, a more just and sustainable approach to how we dress, live, eat and travel is needed as we ‘build back better’, which builds greater long-term resilience. It’s important for all of us to play our part by making individual small changes and choosing where we spend our money.”
You can read the report in full report on issuu.com.