Extended producer responsibility (EPR) for clothing could improve the fashion industry’s poor progress on voluntary recycling commitments, WRAP director Peter Maddox has indicated.
The Environmental Audit Committee’s report Fixing Fashion suggested a 1p levy on each garment to fund recycling. Maddox said EPR “could incentivise the design of longer-lasting clothes and provide support to the used textiles recycling sector, for instance, by supporting the development of end markets and fibre-to-fibre recycling”.
The report said WRAP’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) had attracted only 11 major retailers, and suggested that mandatory participation may be necessary, a proposal on which WRAP has not stated any view.
Maddox said work was at an early stage into the viability of recycling textiles into new fibres, while research suggested that chemical fibre-to-fibre recycling of polycotton blends gave a better chance of being financially viable.
“Fibre-to-fibre recycling is not without its challenges and significant barriers will need to be overcome to close the loop on discarded clothing,” Maddox said.
“But there are several ways this might be done, including an EPR regime to support the required investment in new infrastructure.”
But a WRAP spokesperson said: “The EAC report suggests membership of SCAP should be made mandatory. This year, WRAP will discuss with stakeholders their interest in a new collaborative action post-2020 and the appropriate focus for action. If a new agreement is developed, we would welcome more companies joining it.
”Whether they do so under a Government mandate is a matter for the Government to decide and not a decision for WRAP.”
Maddox discussed the relative merits of voluntary agreements and compulsory regulation in an interview with MRW in December.
He said then: ”It would be very powerful to have a combination of voluntary action with strong market signals from the Government. Regulation and policy take a lot of time to implement.”
WRAP put together the Plastics Pact with nearly 100 members in about six months, but “if you look at the parallel discussions going on around plastics policy, including EPR, the reality is that some of these measures won’t be in place until 2022 at the earliest. Voluntary agreements can move businesses quickly.”