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UK Parliament Proposes Environmental Tax And Due Diligence In New Economic Model For The Fashion Industry


16th Report from the Environmental Audit Committee

We need a new economic model for fashion. Business as usual no longer works.

 The Government should change the law to require companies to perform due diligence checks across their supply chains.

UK designers are already taking a lead on sustainable fashion.

We heard from a range of exciting, innovative and sustainable fashion businesses and designers in the UK who are forging a new vision for fashion.

These innovators are faced with competition from businesses who are focused on reducing costs and maximising profits regardless of the environmental or social costs.

Government needs to provide clear economic incentives for retailers to do the right thing.

We recommend that the Government reforms taxation to reward fashion companies that design products with lower environmental impacts and penalise those that do not. Moving from conventional to organic cotton and from virgin polyester to recycled PET (in garments designed to minimise shedding) would help to reduce the negative impact of the clothing industry.

The Government should investigate whether its proposed tax on virgin plastics, which comes into force in 2022, should be applied to textile products that contain less than 50% recycled PET to stimulate the market for recycled fibres in the UK.

Conclusions and recommendations

We recognise that fast fashion has made it affordable for everyone to experience the pleasure of style, design and the latest trends.

We were told however that the most sustainable garment is the one we already own and that repairing, rewearing, reusing, and renting are preferable to recycling or discarding clothes.

The Government must change the system to end the throwaway society. Often it is more expensive to repair an item than buy a new one. Many of us also lack the skills to perform more than basic clothing repairs.

The Government should make fashion retailers take responsibility for the waste they create and reward companies that take positive action to reduce waste. A charge of one penny per garment on producers could raise £35 million to invest in better clothing collection and sorting in the UK.

The Government's recent pledge to review and consult on extended producer responsibility for the textile industry by 2025 is too slow.

We need action before the end of this Parliament.