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Ten Fashion Bosses including Next Primark JD Sports Asked To Reveal Environmental Record

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The Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Mary Creagh MP has written to the chief executives of the UK’s ten leading fashion retailers to find out what steps they are taking to reduce the environmental and social impact of the clothes and shoes they sell.

The companies the Environmental Audit Committee has written to are: Marks and Spencer Group, Primark Stores, Next Retail, Arcadia Group, Asda, Tk Maxx and HomeSense, Tesco, JD Sports Fashion, Debenhams, Sports Direct International.

The Deadline for replies is October 12 2018 and the Committee may then choose to invite some of the biggest retailers into Parliament for further questioning.  Hearings for the inquiry are due to take place in November.

The request for evidence will inform the Committee’s inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry, which is investigating how the UK’s fashion industry - that is worth £28bn a year to the UK economy - can reduce its environmental footprint.

Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh MP said:

"The way we design, produce and discard our clothes has a huge impact on our planet. Fashion and footwear retailers have a responsibility to minimise their environmental footprint and make sure the workers in their supply chains are paid a living wage. We want to hear what they are doing to make their industry more sustainable."

Clothing production contributes to climate change, and when clothes are washed they release microplastic fibres, which make their way into the ocean. Unwanted and outdated clothing end up in landfill, while some charities have complained that second-hand clothes are exported and dumped on overseas markets.

Demand for fast fashion fuelling need for quick turn-arounds in the supply chain

Although there has been a renewed interest in recent years in clothing made in Britain, there are concerns that the demand for fast fashion is fuelling the need for quick turn-arounds in the supply chain, leading to poor working conditions in UK garment factories.
Fashion retailers are being asked about their environmental footprint to inform the Committee’s recommendations to Government on how to solve these problems. Among the questions fashion retailers are being asked to respond to:

  • Whether they pay the living wage to garment workers and how they ensure child labour is not used in their supply chains;

  • Whether they use recycled materials;

  • How long clothes are kept and how they encourage recycling;

  • Whether they incinerate unsold or returned stock;

  • What steps they are taking to reduce the risk of microplastics contaminating the ocean; and

  • What other steps they are taking to reduce the environmental impact of their clothing ranges and how they audit success.