UK Government Launches Investigation Into Environmental Impact Of Fast Fashion Industry

by: Lucy Jones | 1 year ago | News

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The UK government has launched an investigation into the environmental impact of the fast fashion industry. The inquiry will look at the carbon footprint, resource use and water footprint of clothing through its supply chain and lifecycle. The House of Commons environmental audit committee will also investigate how higher recycling rates and new business models could create a "thriving and sustainable" fashion industry.

“Fashion shouldn’t cost the Earth” chair of the committee, Mary Creagh MP, said. “But the way we design, make and discard clothes has a huge environmental impact. Producing clothes requires climate-changing emissions. Every time we put on a wash, thousands of plastic fibres wash down the drain into the oceans. We don’t know where or how to recycle end-of-life clothing.”

Clothing is the second-most polluting industry in the world, after oil, but the environmental impact of clothes is still relatively under-researched. This investigation will be one of the first large-scale attempts to understand the environmental footprint that clothes have over their entire lifecycle. Raw materials that are used to make clothes need land and water to grow. Water and chemical dyes and finishings are also used in the garment construction process. Carbon dioxide is emitted at various stages in the clothing supply chain and petroleum-based fibres, like polyester, shed microfibres in the wash that make their way into the world's rivers and oceans. When they reach the end of their life, clothes are usually sent to landfill.

According to The Guardian, approximately 300,000 tonnes of fashion waste ends up in landfill each year. A recent study by the Ellen MaxArthur Foundation found that the UK government is spending £82m on landfilling clothing and household textiles annually. The organisation estimates that, if the fashion industry continues down this path, it could be using more that a quarter of the world's annual carbon budget by 2050.

The environmental audit committee warns that the lucrative fast fashion business model, which contributed £28.1bn to Britain's GDP in 2015, is fuelling a culture of overconsumption. The inquiry will look at how consumers can be persuaded to buy less, reuse and repair clothing and dispose of garments consciously.

Via The Guardian.

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