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Major textile producers agree to reducing waste footprint by 2020

Companies representing more than a third of UK clothing sales have committed to reducing their environmental footprint by signing up to WRAP’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) 2020 Commitment.

The commitment was launched by WRAP this week (20 June) and includes the goals to increase reuse and recycling to recover maximum value from used clothing and keeping clothes out of landfill.

Among the first 21 companies and organisations to sign up were: Arcadia Group, ASOS, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Next, and Sainsbury’s. Charity recyclers that commited were: Clothes Aid and Salvation Army Trading Company. Associations to join were the British Retail Consortium, Centre for Sustainable Fashion and the Textile Recycling Association. Textiles recycling company I&G Cohen and Defra also signed up.

There are two levels of commitment that companies or organisations can sign up for as part of the voluntary agreement:

  • Signatories, such as retailers, charities and recyclers, will deliver part of the carbon, water and waste footprint reductions through actions which they control.
  • Supporters, such as sector bodies and NGOs, will help to develop and promote good practice in the industry and deliver consumer information, according to their role within the product life-cycle.

Baseline data from 2012 will allow signatories to agree targets for carbon, water and waste savings to be delivered by 2020. Targets will be agreed with signatories by the end of 2013.

WRAP has created a ‘footprint calculator’ to help them measure and report the global impact of the clothes they produce, sell and recover.

SCAP 2020 puts forward seven areas of commitment:

  1. Use a common assessment tool to measure our baseline position and track changes in footprint over time
  2. Reduce the environmental footprint of clothing through fibre and fabric selection
  3. Long term, work with supply chain partners to reduce the environmental footprint of their processes.
  4. Extend the useful life of clothes and reduce the environmental impact of clothing in use through product design and services.
  5. Influence key consumer behaviours which will reduce the environmental footprint of clothing.
  6. Increase re-use and recycling to recover maximum value from used clothing.
  7. keep clothes out of landfill

WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin said: “We know that overall, clothing contributes around 5% of the carbon footprint and between 6-8% of the water footprint of all the UK’s goods and services. It also accounts for more than 1 million tonnes of wasted materials, making it the most significant category for consumption impacts after food and drink, housing and transport.”

She added: “SCAP is an opportunity for all players in the sector to work together to reduce these impacts, making individual changes for a common good.”

The foundations of the initiative were laid down last summer with the launch of the WRAP’s ‘Valuing our Clothes’ report, which highlighted waste clothing is worth £30 billion in the UK.

The sustainable clothing commitment follows in the wake of similar voluntary agreements managed by WRAP, including the successful Courtauld Commitment for food and packaging recycling, and the Hopspitality and Food Service Agreement.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Will these measurements be take from materials recycled in the UK, or include those which are exported and or dumped overseas? Simply exporting such goods does not constitute recycling, as these may well end up in landfill in other countries. Reducing our "footprint" at the cost of others in not morally correct. If it is generated by UK consumers, then it should stay in the UK, and be used in alternative products, and only then, "IF" there is any surplus should this be exported. More stringent controls on exports of such products is what is required to ensure we commit to and standby what we say, and do.

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