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Headline

Government rejects MPs’ sustainable fashion guidance

Comment

I can understand the disappointment felt by the environmental audit committee, but the situation is not nearly as dark as suggested. The comment that the Government is “is content to tolerate practices that trash the environment and exploit workers” is not warranted by their response to the committee. I’ll give just one example: the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). This is an issue that interests me, as until recently there has been no realistic estimate of how much it would cost to recycle unwanted textiles by turning them into products with a market value. Participation in the Resyntex project has allowed data on costs of collection, sorting and processing to be assessed. The project has come to an end with a pilot plant in Slovenia capable of processing 100 tons of textile waste a year. A colleague and myself have used to cost data to assess what a realistic EPR levy would be. We presented this at last year’s Textile Institute World Conference and concluded that light clothing and underwear would need to contribute about 5p per garment to cover the costs of recycling. The figure for a jacket or coat is about 50p. We anticipate that these levy figures are necessary to interest investors to build the necessary plants and run profitably, but economies of scale and synergistic process improvements should allow these figures to reduce with time. Compare this with the EAC’s recommendation of 1p – which is unrealistically low. There is a case for moving towards implementation based on good research. The Government’s response is to say: “in our Resources and Waste Strategy we committed to reviewing and consulting on measures such as EPR and product standards for five new waste streams by 2025, with two these to be completed by 2022.” One of these waste streams is textiles.

Posted date

18 June 2019

Posted time

3:15 pm

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