Sustainability charity WRAP has warned major clothing retailers and brands they must demonstrate their commitment to making sustainable longer-lasting clothes or risk losing sales.
WRAP says many businesses have responded to public demand for clothes with lighter environmental footprints by signing up to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) 2020 voluntary agreement.
The charity has now called on those businesses yet to act and those who wish to protect their market share to sign up to the new Textiles 2030 agreement.
Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “Thousands of tonnes of unwanted clothes and textiles end up in landfill and incineration each year, wasting precious natural resources.
“That is why we must shift away from this ‘take, make, use, throw’ approach to a more circular system where clothes are kept in use and re-used, recycled fibres are used in new products and the climate and water impacts of the sector are reduced.
“Textiles 2030 will help drive this transformation, to shift to greater circularity and innovation in the UK and help in our mission to build back greener from the Covid pandemic.”
Textiles 2030 is a 10-year programme aiming to transform UK clothing and home fabrics to reduce their impact on climate change.
“We must shift away from this ‘take, make, use, throw’ approach to a more circular system where clothes are kept in use and re-used”
Central to the programme, WRAP says, is the ‘Target-Measure-Act’ approach, which requires clothing and textile businesses to set targets, measure their impact and track progress.
The British Fashion Council, British Heart Foundation, The British Retail Consortium, Cancer Research UK, Charity Retail Association, CTR Group, Institute of Positive Fashion, John Lewis & Partners, Next, Oxfam, Primark, Recyclatex, Re-Fashion, Sainsbury’s, Salvation Army Trading Company, SOEX UK, Suez, Ted Baker, Textiles Recycling Association and Tesco are the first to sign up to Textiles 2030. It is to be officially launched in April 2021.
Launched in 2012, SCAP 2020 set out to cut carbon, water and waste by influencing product design and manufacture, re-use and recycling (see letsrecycle.com story).
Marcus Gover, chief executive of WRAP, said: “SCAP 2020 has been an amazing journey and so much has been achieved. I would like to thank signatories, advisors, supporters, funders and colleagues for their commitment and energy during these last eight years.
“I am hugely impressed by the extent to which we have been able to make such a difference by working together. SCAP 2020 signatories have been the recognised leaders.
“However, more action is needed by more companies to make clothing more sustainable. That is why we need to continue this work. Textiles 2030 will pick up the mantle.”
More than half of people now view the environmental impact of clothing as severe, research by WRAP has shown. And, two in three (63%) people say clothes made to look good and that last longer are now factors in the brands and clothing they choose.
“More action is needed by more companies to make clothing more sustainable”
Earlier WRAP research found the public wants inventive new retail options that prolong the life of clothes, including voucher schemes for clothing exchanges (46%) and pre-loved clothes (41%). These schemes were particularly popular among younger and ‘high frequency’ (weekly) clothes shoppers.
Consumers’ personal habits also changed during lockdown, with one in four (23%) now repairing clothes, and one in five (19%) keeping items for longer.
Reaction from within the waste management sector to the initiative has been positive.
John Scanlon, CEO of SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, said: “A move away from a make-use-dispose culture to a more circular model is only possible when organisations from across the value chain come together, and we’re proud to join many well-known high street brands and charities, to be the first recycling and waste management company to sign up to WRAP’s ambitious Textiles 2030 agreement.
“By working together over the next decade, I’m confident we can build on the progress made so far to transform the UK’s clothing and home fabrics industry to one where products are produced sustainably and designed with end of life in mind, so they can be used for longer and recycled into new products when this is no longer possible, to create a truly circular textiles industry.”