IS THE GOVERNMENT TAKING THE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE CAUSED BY THE FASHION INDUSTRY SERIOUSLY?

2019 saw the government commit to a net zero emissions target by 2050. This was certainly a step in the right direction for those who have tirelessly campaigned for climate action. The government may not have met Extinction Rebellion’s demand for net zero by 2025. Nevertheless, this statement signalled for many that the government was finally taking climate change seriously. 

Then June arrived. It was time for the government to respond to a report by the Environmental Audit Committee that focussed on the fashion industry. The report made a list of recommendations to the government on how it could force certain elements of the fashion industry to clean up its act from both an environmental and humanitarian perspective. 

Whilst the U.K continues to send over 300,000 tonnes of clothes to either landfill or incineration per year and there have been reports that slave labour has been utilised by some of the country’s biggest fashion retailers, you would think that the government would be ready to accept the committee’s proposals. 

Here is a list of the key proposals that were made as well as an account of the government’s response to each one.

A new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme to reduce textile waste with a one penny charge per garment on producers.
NOT ACCEPTED

Ban on incinerating or landfilling unsold stock that can be reused or recycled.
NOT ACCEPTED

Mandatory environmental targets for fashion retailers with a turnover above £36 million.
NOT ACCEPTED

The fashion industry must come together to set out their blueprint for a net zero emissions world, reducing their carbon consumption back to 1990 levels.
NOT ACCEPTED

The scheme should reward fashion companies that design products with lower environmental impacts and penalise those that do not.
NOT ACCEPTED

The Government should publish a publicly accessible list of retailers required to release a modern slavery statement. This should be supported by an appropriate penalty for those companies who fail to report and comply with the Modern Slavery Act.
NOT ACCEPTED

So it is pretty clear the government are not taking the environmental (and humanitarian) problems of the fashion industry seriously. Whilst we continue to campaign to the government, us consumers must also do what is in our power to limit the damage the industry is doing by making sure we only shop from places that are environmentally (and humanitarianly) responsible. 

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