Government considers clothing levy to reduce fashion industry waste

Environmental Audit Committee
Waste is just one of the issues in the spotlight

Clothing retailers and manufacturers could face a levy on every garment sold under new proposals under consideration to tackle fashion industry waste.

It is estimated that around 300,000 tonnes of clothing is either incinerated or sent to landfill every year and placing an additional tax on those who sell and make clothing is being considered as one of a raft of new proposals to cut waste and encourage recycling across a range of industries, as outlined in the government’s Environment Bill.

Environment secretary Michael Gove said of the bill: “We are committed to going further and faster to reduce, reuse, recycle and cut waste. That’s why we are leading the way to move away from being a ‘throw-away’ society and drive up domestic recycling.”

Other options under consideration include weekly food waste collections, a deposit scheme for bottles and cans and and pushing the cost of collecting and recycling back to those companies which produce it.

The clothing tax falls under the new “producer responsibility” schemes Gove is considering.

Fashion is under the spotlight, not only for its contribution to waste, but its ethics across the board from workers’ rights to the promotion of conscious consumption. MP Mary Creagh is heading up an inquiry into the industry the full results of which are due to be published imminently.

Creagh has said that her report will contain recommendations for legislation in fashion. An interim report was published last month in which a number of big-name brands were criticised for their perceived lack of engagement with sustainable practices (see box below from Creagh’s report).

Environmental Audit Committee