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A report by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee to assess the impact of fast fashion in the UK has been rejected by the government. The MPs’ report, entitled Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption And Sustainability, was published in February and outlined 18 recommendations, including a 1p surcharge on every garment sold in order to help fund clothing collection and recycling schemes.
“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,” commented Labour MP and EAC chairwoman Mary Creagh. “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.”
Creagh went on to accuse the government of being “out of step with the public” and said people are “shocked by the fact we are sending 300,000 tonnes of clothes a year to incineration or landfill”.
A government spokesman responded: “It simply isn’t true to say we are not accepting the committee’s recommendations… much of what the committee would like to achieve is already covered by government policy.” They went on to spotlight the “landmark” Resources and Waste Strategy, which aims to promote extended producer responsibility (EPR), in which retailers would have to consider and pay for the end-of-life process of their products. The representative also pointed to the government’s voluntary Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), which sets industry targets for reducing carbon emissions, water and waste.
In response to Creagh’s comments that it had not accepted recommendations to amend the Modern Slavery Act to ensure companies perform due diligence checks across their supply chains, the government spokesperson said the bill was “ground-breaking”. “The prime minister announced last week that the government will create a new central online reporting service for modern slavery statements to give consumers the ability to make more informed choices about where they shop,” they added.
Creagh posted the government’s response to the EAC on Twitter to a wealth of support from activists, including Fashion Revolution Founder Carry Somers. “The government’s comprehensive rejection of the EAC’s proposals is so short sighted in the light of the current climate emergency,” she said. “Voluntary initiatives alone will not be enough to get brands to take responsibility for their actions and impacts.”