M&S, John Lewis and Arcadia are among a group of clothing retailers that have signed a commitment to measure, report and reduce the environmental ‘footprint’ of clothing.
In total 21 companies, representing more than a third of UK clothing sales, have agreed to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) 2020 Commitment and others are expected to follow over the coming weeks.
The action plan aims to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprint of companies through actions which they control, such as fibre choice, as well as encouraging changes in consumer behaviour through “consistent and co-ordinated delivery” of consumer information.
To help organisations measure their carbon, water and waste use, environmental agency Wrap has developed a spread sheet-based ‘footprint’ calculator. This tool will enable companies to quantify and report the total global impacts of the clothes they make, sell and recover, in a consistent way.
This baseline data for 2012 will enable the signatories to identify and agree targets for carbon, water and waste savings, to be delivered by 2020, as well as identifying the ‘next steps’.
The organisations will focus on a number of areas including the use of lower-impact textile fibres, extending the active life of clothing, recovering waste material and providing more information for consumers.
Wrap chief executive Liz Goodwin said: “Overall, clothing contributes around 5% of the carbon footprint and between 6-8% of the water footprint of all the UK’s goods and services. It also accounts for more than one million tonnes of wasted materials, making it the most significant category for consumption impacts after food and drink, housing and transport.
She added: “SCAP is an opportunity for all players in the sector to work together to reduce these impacts, making individual changes for a common good.”
Arcadia Group, Asos, British Retail Consortium, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Clothes Aid, Defra, I&G Cohen, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Next, Sainsbury’s, Salvation Army Trading Company and the Textile Recycling Association are among the first to sign up to the commitment.