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Parliamentary sustainability committee publishes interim review of fashion industry

Lauretta Roberts
31 January 2019

A number of big name retailers have come under fire from MPs for their lack of engagement with sustainability and labour market initiatives in a report produced on the back an ongoing parliamentary inquiry into the sustainability of the UK fashion industry.

In its interim findings, published today, the Environmental Audit Committee headed by MP Mary Creagh, has criticised JD Sports, Sports Direct, Amazon UK and Boohoo for their lack of commitment to these causes.

The report notes that none of these companies have signed up to SCAP (Sustainable Clothing Action Plan) to reduce their carbon, water and waste footprint or the ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) labour rights and living-wage agreement.

However ASOS, Marks & Spencer, Primark, Burberry and Tesco were singled out for praise for their commitment to these matters. While others were deemed to be "moderately engaged" (see table).

“We want to see a thriving fashion industry that employs people fairly, inspires creativity and contributes to the economic success of the UK," said Creagh.

“It’s shocking to see that a group of major retailers are failing to take action to promote environmental sustainability and protect their workers. It’s disappointing that only a third of the retailers we wrote to are signed up to ACT, an important global initiative working towards getting a living wage for all garment workers.

“By publishing this information, customers can choose whether they want to spend money with a company that is doing little to protect the environment or promote proper wages for garment workers. We hope this motivates underperforming retailers to start taking responsibility for their workers and their environmental impact.”

Creagh said she was particularly concerned about the so-called "fast fashion" model that encourages the over-consumption of clothing and, therefore, waste.

The report, which will be published in full next month during London Fashion Week, concludes that:

  • Current business model for UK fashion industry is unsustainable
  • Exploitative practices must end
  • Retailers must lead change through labour market and environmental sustainability practices
  • Retailers should show leadership through engagement with industry initiatives

Where the key retailers stood in the study:

 

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