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Govt ‘out of step’ after rejecting proposals to tackle throwaway fashion industry | Politics News

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Calls for a levy on clothing sales to tackle labour abuses and environmental damage caused by “throwaway fashion” have been rejected by the government.

The environmental audit committee had published a report which recommended a one pence charge on every item of clothing sold to raise investment for textile recycling.

Other recommendations included a ban on incinerating unsold stock or sending it to landfill, and mandatory environmental targets for fashion retailers with a turnover above £36m.

The committee had also suggested a more proactive approach to enforcing the national minimum wage to avoid exploitation of textile workers.

But the government said it was already working with the industry to reduce waste and it had increased resources to ensure all British workers were paid at least the minimum wage.

Every year £140m worth of clothes are sent to landfill in the UK
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Every year billions of clothing items are sent to landfill

A suggestion that fashion companies be rewarded or penalised depending on the environmental impact of their products was also met with a refusal.

In its response the government wrote: “We recognise how crucial it is for the environmental and social impacts to be well managed, particularly in this era of fast fashion.

“We recognise the impact of the UK’s clothing consumption on the environment in the UK and across the world as a result of global supply chains.

“Considering the global nature of the sector and its supply chains, the industry has the primary role to play in achieving change, helped by consumer behaviour and underpinned by support, where appropriate, from government.”

Committee chairwoman Mary Creagh said: “Fashion producers should be forced to clear up the mountains of waste they create.

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

“The government is out of step with the public who are shocked by the fact that we are sending 300,000 tonnes of clothes a year to incineration or landfill.

“Ministers have failed to recognise that urgent action must be taken to change the fast fashion business model which produces cheap clothes that cost the earth.”







UK shoppers buy 26.7kg of new clothes annually

Britain buys more clothes per person than any other country in Europe and Greenpeace says 73% of textile fibres used to produce more than 100 billion garments each year end up in landfill or incinerators after they have been used.

The committee says that one kilogram of cotton fabric can use as much as 10,000 to 20,000 litres of water to produce.

Also, between 20% and 35% of all primary source microplastics in the marine environment are from synthetic clothing.

:: Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com

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