WRAP claims progress on clothing sustainability

11th July 2017 | Recycling

Clothing companies that back the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) have out-performed the rest of the sector over carbon, water and waste targets – but the industry’s overall carbon footprint continues to grow, according to WRAP. The charity has produced a report on the environmental impact of the UK clothing industry with SCAP signatories. Valuing our clothes: the cost of

UK fashion, is an update of its 2012 assessment that spawned the voluntary 2020 target agreements.

Clothing Sustainability

Progress on the targets per tonne of clothing sold by SCAP signatories, which now account for 60% of the sector, is:

  • Water use: 13.5% reduction (2020 target 15%)
  • Carbon: 10.6% reduction (target 15%)
  • Waste: 0.8% saving (target 3.5%).

Even so, the industry’s carbon footprint has risen by the equivalent of two million tonnes of CO2 in the past five years to more than 26 million tonnes, because more clothes are being bought – and many at cheaper prices. Clothing in household residual waste since 2012 has decreased by 50,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes (31% down to 25%).

Bruce Batley, chief executive of First Mile, said the amount still being disposed of in this way was “shocking”. “Brands need to focus on making clothes that will last rather than disposable pieces created for a season. Beyond this, it needs to be easier for consumers to recycle their clothes and the industry must play its part in education and innovation to ensure clothes can be and are recycled.

Trewin Restorick, chief executive of the Hubbub environmental charity, told the Guardian, “It is encouraging that the amount of clothing being landfilled is decreasing, but research suggests this may be because people are hoarding more at home. Overall sales of clothing is increasing and the UK needs to jump off the fast fashion treadmill to find a truly sustainable approach.”

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