Fashion retailers failing environmental commitment

In autumn 2018 the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) wrote to sixteen leading UK fashion retailers asking what they are doing to reduce the environmental and social impact of their products.

The EAC has now published its interim report, with JD Sports; Sports Direct, TK Maxx, Amazon, Boohoo and Missguided described as 'lagging’ and ‘least engaged’. None of these companies have signed up to SCAP (Sustainable Clothing Action Plan) to reduce their carbon, water and waste footprint or the ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) labour rights and living-wage agreement.

EAC chair Mary Creagh MP said: “It’s shocking to see that a group of major retailers are failing to take action to promote environmental sustainability and protect their workers. It’s disappointing that only a third of the retailers we wrote to are signed up to ACT, an important global initiative working towards getting a living wage for all garment workers.”

Retailers that were praised as being ‘most engaged’ included ASOS, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Primark; and Burberry. All ‘most engaged’ retailers use organic or sustainable cotton and recycled material in their products as well as having in store take back schemes. With the exception of Burberry, all other retailers are signed up to the SCAP targets.

The Committee also welcome Burberry’s commitment to end the incineration of unsold stock and acknowledged that the company is engaged with a range of other sustainability initiatives to reduce environmental impact. It was also noted that ASOS is the first online retailer to sign a Global Framework Agreement with IndustriALL, committing to the highest possible standards on trade union rights, health and safety, and labour relations.

The report concludes that the current business model for UK fashion industry is unsustainable, and that change will be required.

Interested parties may view the report here:

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