The Environmental Audit Committee will follow-up work on its 2018 inquiry, Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability. The Committee has chosen to revisit the issue to monitor progress due to continued concerns around the environmental impact of the fashion industry and working conditions in UK garment factories.
The Government rejected most of the Committee’s recommendations in 2019, which ranged from a producer responsibility charge to pay for better clothing collection and recycling to requiring due diligence checks across fashion supply chains to root out forced or child labour. However, the Government has identified textile waste as a priority area to address its Resources and Waste Strategy.
Fashion production has a considerable impact on climate and biodiversity. The global fashion industry is estimated to have produced around 2.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2018; the equivalent to the combined emissions of France, Germany and the UK.
Fast fashion also creates a waste problem in the UK and developing countries. UK citizens buy more new clothes than any other European country and throw away over a million tonnes of clothing every year. While two thirds of clothing is either donated or collected for resale or low quality recycling, around 336,000 tonnes is disposed of in household bins destined for landfill or incineration.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on garment factories in Leicester. Reports of poor working conditions suggests there has been little improvement since the Committee’s report, which recommended regular audits and for companies to engage with unions for their workers.
The Committee’s follow-up work will consist of gathering written evidence and a one-off oral evidence session.