MADRID (Reuters) – A cross-party group of British lawmakers recommended on Tuesday that brands and retailers in the fashion industry should pay a penny per garment to fund better clothing waste collection following an eight-month inquiry into the sector.
The British buy more clothes per person than any other country in Europe, the report published as a result of the inquiry noted, while around 300,000 tons of textile waste are sent to landfill or incinerators in the UK every year.
The inquiry, the first of its kind carried out at parliamentary level worldwide, coincides with growing public awareness of waste and its environmental impact.
The fashion industry is big business in Britain, worth 32 billion pounds ($41 billion) in 2017 and employing 890,000 people in retail, manufacturing, brands and fashion design in the country.
But charities, scientists and academics raised concerns during the inquiry that fast fashion – an accelerated business model that sees increased numbers of new collections every year, often at low prices – was unsustainable.
“‘Fast fashion’ means we over-consume and under-use clothes,” said Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh, who is also a Member of Parliament. “Fashion retailers must take responsibility for the clothes they produce.”
Aside from the penny charge to fund better waste collection, the committee called on the government to implement tax reforms to reward companies that design products with less environmental impact and to favor reuse, repair and recycling of garments.
It also recommended lessons to design, make and mend clothes should be on the school curriculum, while sales taxes on repair services should be reduced.
“The government must act to end the era of throwaway fashion by incentivizing companies that offer sustainable designs and repair services,” said Creagh.
Reporting by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Jan Harvey