Fashion producers should pay a penny per item to fund waste collection, say MPs

The UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), which scrutinises the environmental impact of government policies, is calling for a one pence producer responsibility fee to be paid by fashion brands and retailers on each item of clothing they sell in order to fund better textile waste collection and recycling.

In a new report released last month (19 February), entitled ‘Fixing fashion: Clothing consumption and sustainability’, the EAC has called for the fashion industry to take more responsibility for the waste it produces through an extended producer responsibility (EPR) regime, while companies that make progress on reducing their environmental footprint should be rewarded through the tax system.

The report concludes the EAC’s inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry, launched in June 2018. The clothing industry is a significant part of the UK economy, contributing £28.1 billion to national GDP in 2015, and produces a sizeable amount of waste. The UK’s domestic clothing consumption stands at about 1.1 million tonnes of clothing every year, with consumers throwing away one million tonnes of textiles every year, according to the report. While much is donated to charity shops, around 300,000 ends up in household waste bins, with an estimated 20 per cent of this going to landfill and 80 per cent being sent for incineration.