A committee of MPs has called for fashion brands to pay 'a producer responsibility charge' of 1p on each garment to pay for the collection and recycling of clothing.
According to the Environmental Audit Committee, over 1 million tonnes of clothes go to landfill in the UK every year. A penny on each piece of clothing could raise £35 million for investment into collection and recycling. The proposed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme is part of a host of recommendations, which also includes giving incentives to fashion brands to increase the longevity of their products.
"Fashion shouldn't cost the earth. Our insatiable appetite for clothes comes with a huge social and environmental price tag: carbon emissions, water use, chemical and plastic pollution are all destroying our environment," comments Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Mary Creagh MP.
"In the UK we buy more clothes per person than any other country in Europe. 'Fast fashion' means we overconsume and under use clothes. As a result, we get rid of over a million tonnes of clothes, with £140 million worth going to landfill, every year.
"Fashion retailers must take responsibility for the clothes they produce. That means asking producers to consider and pay for the end of life process for their products through a new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme. The Government must act to end the era of throwaway fashion by incentivising companies that offer sustainable designs and repair services. Children should be taught the joy of making and mending clothes in school as an antidote to anxiety and the mental health crisis in teenagers. Consumers must play their part by buying less, mending, renting and sharing more."
The Environmental Audit Committee's other key recommendations include introducing mandatory environmental targets for fashion retailers with a turnover of over £36 million, rewards for businesses that design products with a lower environmental impact and penalties for those who don't, a reduction of VAT on repair services (as in Sweden), and to teach lessons on designing, making and repairing clothes in schools.
The committee of MPs also wants to see the fashion industry 'come together to set out their blueprint for a net zero emissions world' and to cut their carbon consumption to 1990 levels, and for the government to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act to ensure big companies don't have forced labour in their supply chains.