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Clothing businesses urged to protect their profits and the planet with ambitious climate change pledge

Gaelle Walker
10 November 2020

Major clothing retailers and brands must show a far larger commitment to more sustainable clothing or risk losing sales, Wrap is warning.

As public appetite for clothing with a lower environmental footprint continues to grow, the UK’s sustainability charity is urging companies to better protect the environment and their own market share, by signing up to the new Textiles 2030 agreement.

Following on from the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020, the new Textiles 2030 pledge will be “the most ambitious national voluntary agreement for clothing and other textiles in the world,” Wrap said.

The new ten-year programme, which will launch officially in April 2021, seeks to transform UK clothing and home fabrics to reduce their impact on climate change.

It comes as new research by Wrap reveals that two out of three (63%) of shoppers claim that clothes made to look good and last longer are now key factors in the brands and clothing they choose.

In addition, more than half of people currently view the environmental impact of clothing as “severe,” Wrap said.

The latest findings build on earlier Wrap research which highlighted strong public support for retail initiatives that prolonged the life of clothes, including voucher schemes for clothing exchanges (46%), and pre-loved clothes (41%).

Consumers’ personal habits have also changed during lockdown, with one in four (23%) now repairing clothes, and one in five (19%) keeping items for longer. 

Wrap chief executive Marcus Gover said: “SCAP 2020 has been an amazing journey and so much has been achieved.

“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.”

“It will take the UK from a make-use-dispose culture to a circular one where goods are produced sustainably, used longer, and then re-used or recycled into new products.”

Central to the agreement is the Target-Measure-Act approach, which requires clothing and textile businesses to set targets, measure their impact and track progress on both an individual business basis, and towards national targets and public reporting.

In this way, Textiles 2030 will reduce lifecycle GHG emissions in line with the global goal of a 1.5°C trajectory, cut the water footprint of products and deliver a UK-wide circular textiles road map.

A number of organisations including The British Fashion Council, The British Retail Consortium, 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 have already signed up ahead of the official launch of Textiles 2030 in April 2021.

Commenting on the scheme, 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.”

British Retail Consortium (BRC) sustainability policy advisor Leah Riley Brown, added: “The BRC supports Textiles 2030 as an important step towards decarbonising and accelerating change within the UK fashion industry.

“Alongside our Climate Action Roadmap, both will provide a comprehensive way forward for fashion retailers to deliver an ambitious target to tackle climate change ahead of the Government’s 2050 net zero target. 

"Industry-wide collaboration is essential if we are to make crucial, science-based progress to create a more circular economy and combat climate change."

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