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Landfill falling out of fashion in clothing sector

Signatories of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, which cover 65 per cent of UK clothing sales, have made impressive environmental progress through a range of different textiles initiatives.

Signatories of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), which cover 65 per cent of UK clothing sales, have made impressive environmental progress through a range of different textiles initiatives. 

SCAP is a major environmental programme for the textiles industry established by resource efficiency NGO, WRAP.

There are more than 80 signatories, including major clothing designers, brands, manufacturers, retailers and fashion houses, such as Next, Primark, M&S and Ted Baker.

Guides and toolkits

As part of the programme, WRAP has launched a number of online textiles guides, covering resource efficient business models, clothing design, fibre and fabric selection, consumer behaviour, and re-use and recycling.

SCAP signatories have signed up to a number of per-tonne 2020 targets, including a 15 per cent reduction in water use, carbon footprint and waste to landfill, and a 3.5 per cent reduction in waste arising over the whole product lifecycle.

According to the latest update report, the companies have already achieved a 13.5 per cent reduction in water use, 10.6 per cent reduction in carbon emissions and a 0.8 per cent reduction in waste over product lifecycles. 

Consumer behaviour

Research from WRAP has also revealed that the way consumers treat their clothes has changed over the past three years.

The amount of clothing discarded in residual waste bins has fallen by around 14 per cent in this time - equating to 50,000 tonnes.

Meanwhile, consumers now tend to launder their clothes at a lower temperature and are using tumble dryers and ironing less. 

Innovation

Despite this, WRAP estimates that clothing still has the fourth biggest impact on the environment in the UK after housing, transport and food.

Steve Creed, director business programme at WRAP, said: “With rising global demand and pressure on resources, we urgently need to find new sources of materials – alternatives to the usual raw materials we rely on. Fibre-to-fibre recycling is a key opportunity that the UK should explore commercially, and we will be focusing on this more through SCAP.

New business models that prolong the life of clothes, such as hiring and repair services, are [also] an exciting new area for growth”, he added.