MPs call for 1p charge on new clothes to tackle waste

19th February 2019

Web clothes waste istock 536682994

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Central government ,
  • Waste ,
  • EU


Angus Barham Middleton

Fashion retailers should be charged one penny for each new item of clothing they produce to help fund recycling and waste collections in the UK, MPs have said today.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) warned in a report that 'fast fashion' business models are encouraging over consumption, generating excessive waste, and destroying the environment.

The cross-party group of MPs also urged the government to reform taxation so companies are rewarded for offering repairs and cutting the environmental impact of their products.

Moreover, retailers with a turnover above £36m should be subject to mandatory environmental targets, the EAC said, while designing, creating, mending and repairing clothes ought to be taught in schools.

“Fashion shouldn't cost the earth,“ committee chair, Mary Creagh, said. “Our insatiable appetite for clothes comes with a huge social and environmental price tag: carbon emissions, water use, chemical and plastic pollution.

“Retailers must take responsibility. That means asking producers to pay for the end of life process for their products through a new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme.“

The report highlights how the UK consumes more clothes per person than any other country in Europe, with over a million tonnes of garments worth £140m going to landfill every year.

This comes after the EAC revealed that a group of retailers including Amazon UK, JD Sports and TK Maxx are failing to adequately promote environmental sustainability and protect their workers.

The MPs said that a “voluntary approach has failed“, with just 10 major fashion brands signed up to initiatives to reduce their water, waste and carbon footprints.

In addition to tax reform and a 1p charge on new clothes, the EAC said ministers should introduce a ban on the incineration or landfilling of unsold stock that can be reused or recycled.

The government should also publish a publicly accessible list of companies required to release a modern slavery statement, and punish those that fail to comply, the MPs said.

“Fashion retailers have 'chased the cheap needle around the planet', commissioning production in countries with low pay and little trade union representation,“ Creagh continued.

“Company law must be updated to require modern slavery disclosures by 2022. Companies must report, or face a fine.“

Image credit: iStock


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Scotland to scrap its 2030 climate target

The Scottish government has today conceded that its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 is now “out of reach” following analysis by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

18th April 2024

Read more

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

Five of the latest books on the environment and sustainability

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Ben Goodwin reflects on policy, practice and advocacy over the past year

2nd April 2024

Read more

A hangover from EU legislation, requirements on the need for consideration of nutrient neutrality for developments on many protected sites in England were nearly removed from the planning system in 2023.

2nd April 2024

Read more

It’s well recognised that the public sector has the opportunity to work towards a national net-zero landscape that goes well beyond improving on its own performance; it can also influence through procurement and can direct through policy.

19th March 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close