MPs call for tax on ‘fast fashion’ to help reduce harm to planet

Shops must pay the price for environmentally polluting “fast fashion”, according to a cross-party group of MPs.

The global fashion industry is one of the most harmful to the environment. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Members of Westminster’s environmental audit committee are calling for the UK government to make fashion retailers take responsibility for the waste the sector creates and end the throwaway culture.

They are proposing that a 1p producer responsibility levy should be charged on each garment sold to pay for better collection and recycling.

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Taxation should also be reformed to reward companies that offer clothing repairs and reduce the ecological impact of their products.

Lessons on designing, creating, mending and fixing clothes should be included in the school curriculum to teach people how to reduce the environmental impacts of their outfits.

The recommendations are among a number set out in the final report prepared for an inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry.

Labour’s Mary Creagh, who chairs the committee, said: “Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth. Our insatiable appetite for clothes comes with a huge social and environmental price tag: carbon emissions, water use, chemical and plastic pollution are all destroying our environment.

“In the UK we buy more clothes per person than any other country in Europe.

“Fast fashion means we over-consume and under-use clothes. As a result, we get rid of over a million tonnes of clothes, with £140 million-worth going to landfill, every year.

“Fashion retailers must take responsibility for the clothes they produce.”

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world.

Production and distribution of the crops, fibres and garments used all contribute to differing forms of environmental pollution – including water, air and soil.

Although acknowledging that some parts of the fashion industry are making progress in reducing their carbon and water consumption, the report warns these improvements have been outweighed by the increased volumes of clothing being sold.

It concludes that a voluntary approach to improving the fashion industry’s environmental footprint is failing, with just 11 retailers signed up to reduce their water, waste and carbon emissions.

The report comes days after demonstrators caused disruption at London Fashion Week, urging brands to tackle a global “ecological emergency”.