MPs call for 1p clothing tax and darning classes in school to cut waste

19th February 2019 | Recycling

A penny on every shirt, skirt and stocking could fund better recycling and repairing in the fashion industry, according to a parliamentary report that recommends new taxes to end the throwaway consumer culture. The cross-party environmental audit committee also proposes tax incentives for companies that offer repair services for clothes, and urges schools to introduce darning and mending classes.

The report warns the fashion business in the UK creates 1m tonnes of waste each year and it a bigger sources of carbon emissions than aviation and shipping combined. It calls on the government to force all retailers with a turnover of more than £36m to take responsibility for the waste they create. A producer responsibility charge of one penny on each item of clothing should be levied to pay for better clothing collection and recycling, it said.

“Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth. 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,” said Labour MP Mary Creagh, who chairs the group.

The report is the culmination of an inquiry by MPs into the sustainability of the fashion industry. After gathering evidence from 16 retailers, they found their voluntary efforts to reduce their environmental footprint had been outweighed by a 200,000 tonne increase in sales since 2012. Creagh said people were buying and discarding clothes more quickly than ever.

“Fast fashion means we overconsume and underuse clothes. As a result, we get rid of over a million tonnes of clothes, with £140m worth gong to landfill every year,” she said. Britons buy more clothes per person than any other country in Europe, according to the report. On average, consumers in the UK buy 26.7 kg of fashion items each year, compared with 16.7 kg in Germany, 14.5 kg in Italy and 12.6 kg in Sweden.

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