The popularity of cheap ‘fast fashion’ – and a shortage of sustainable raw materials – is to blame for the worsening carbon footprint of the UK clothing sector, according to a new report.
The study, Valuing Our Clothes: the cost of UK fashion, reveals that around 25 per cent of clothing is thrown in the bin instead of recycled – though conversely, the amount of clothing sent to landfill dropped by almost 15 per cent between 2012 and 2016.
This may not be all positive though.
Trewin Restorick, chief executive of Hubbub environmental charity, said: “It is encouraging that the amount of clothing being landfilled is decreasing, but research suggests this may be because people are hoarding more at home.
“Overall sales of clothing is increasing and the UK needs to jump off the fast fashion treadmill to find a truly sustainable approach.”
According to the report, the volume of clothing people bought rose by more than 1 million tons in 2016 (to nearly 200,000 tons). The environmental impact of this is huge, according to new research by the Government’s waste advisory body Wrap.
The journey from production to disposal of these clothes caused 26 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
Steve Creed, Director of the Wrap Business Programme, said: “It’s great that fewer clothes are ending up in the residual waste, but overall our carbon footprint is rising so the next few years are critical in balancing growing demand with supplying clothes more sustainably.”
Wrap has set up a sustainable clothing action plan – Scap. This is a voluntary agreement, those who sign agree to targets to reduce carbon, water and waste across the life cycle of products.
Creed adds: “I’m confident Scap [Wrap’s sustainable clothing action plan] will play a big part in helping to make this happen, and make sustainable fashion much more mainstream.”