In February, The Environmental Audit Committee published a report with recommendations on how the Government could limit the negative impact that the fashion industry has on the environment and the people who make its products. The Government has chosen not to accept a single one of these recommendations which are aimed at reducing the effects of one of the most polluting industries on the planet as well as tackling modern slavery.
Here are some of the recommendations and the Government's response:
1. Ban incinerating or landfilling unsold stock
The Government commented that it considers positive approaches are required to find outlets for waste textiles. The cross party, EAC reaction was “The Government is out of step with the public who are shocked by the fact that we are sending 300,000 tonnes of clothes a year to incineration or landfill."
2. Reduce waste by charging 1p on every garment produced
The Government "noted" and will consider the EAC's recommendation but made no commitment and consultation could run as late as 2025.
3. Mandatory environmental targets for fashion retailers with a turnover above £36 million.
Not accepted. Government points to environmental savings made by a voluntary industry-led programme but fails to address evidence from WRAP that the impact of increased volumes of clothing being sold outweighs efficiency savings made on carbon and water.
4. The fashion industry must come together to set out their blueprint for a net zero emissions world, reducing their carbon consumption back to 1990 levels.
Not accepted. Government points to support for the voluntary Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), co-ordinated by WRAP with the industry working towards targets to reduce carbon emissions, water and waste.
5. The scheme should reward fashion companies that design products with lower environmental impacts and penalise those that do not.
Not accepted. Govt will focus on tax on single-use plastic in packaging, not clothing.
6. The report calls on the Government to use the tax system to shift the balance of incentives in favour of reuse, repair and recycling to support responsible fashion companies.
7. The Government should follow Sweden's lead and reduce VAT on repair services.
It says little evidence a VAT reduction has been effective in Sweden or that savings have been passed on to consumers.
8. More proactive approach to enforcement of the National Minimum Wage with greater resourcing for HMRC’s National Minimum Wage team to increase inspection and detection work.
Government says HMRC and other enforcement agencies already taking more proactive approach with increase in budget and officers dedicated to NMW enforcement.
9. The Government should publish a publicly accessible list of retailers required to release a modern slavery statement. This should be supported by an appropriate penalty for those companies who fail to report and comply with the Modern Slavery Act.
No recommendations relating to modern slavery have been adopted.