EAC report finds leading retailers lagging behind on fashion sustainability

A group of major UK retailers are not doing enough to reduce the environmental and social impact of the clothes they sell, according to an interim report published by Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC).

The interim report summarises the findings of the EAC’s inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry, launched in June 2018. The inquiry has seen MPs collect evidence from fashion retailers, designers and campaigners to investigate the environmental impact of clothing throughout the lifecycle of a garment in terms of carbon, resource and water use, while also looking at how clothes can be recycled and waste and pollution reduced.

The report concludes that to achieve a significant improvements in sustainability, the fashion industry must move away from the ‘fast fashion’ business model, exploitative labour practices must end, and retailers must lead change through labour market and environmental sustainability practices and engagement with industry initiatives.

As part of the interim report, the EAC has published retailers’ responses to questions given throughout the inquiry, in the form of oral and written evidence, as well as analyses of companies’ commitment to environmental sustainability and labour market initiatives.

The analyses find that a group of retailers including JD Sports, Sports Direct, TK Maxx, Amazon UK, Boohoo and Missguided are lagging behind the rest of the industry when it comes to improving the sustainability of the clothes they sell throughout the entire supply chain.

None of these retailers have signed up to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) – a voluntary commitment launched by WRAP in 2013 to reduce carbon, water use and waste by fashion businesses by 2020 – nor have they signed up to the ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) labour rights and living-wage agreement.