Sustainable textiles

Clothing and textile businesses show progress on the road to net zero

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

Home » Sustainable textiles

Published: 19 October 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Today (19 Oct), WRAP will publish the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan final report – the culmination of eight years’ collaborative action by sector leaders.

In parallel, the Textiles 2030 progress report sets out the practical actions already underway in the successor agreement for the sector to halve GHG emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. 

The Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020 Commitment (SCAP) united fashion brands, retailers, charity retailers, textile recycling companies, academia, governments and other stakeholders to reduce the impact of clothing in the UK.

Between 2012 and 2020, this industry-led action plan delivered effective environmental and economic outcomes.

The final report shows that SCAP exceeded its targets for carbon footprint (-21.6% outcome; -15% target) and water footprint (-18.2% outcome; -15% target), although it struggled to complete the waste element (-2.1% outcome; -3.5% target).

The most impactful change by signatories was a radical increase in the use of more sustainable fibres, from close to zero in 2012 to over 100,000 tonnes in 2020.
 
Improvement actions carried out by SCAP signatories each year have grown more than 10-fold through the agreement.

Actions included switching to more sustainable fibres, low-impact dyeing, introducing hire and repair services, collecting clothing for reuse, designing for longer life and more efficient production.

A circular economy for textiles

Challenges still loom large for the textiles sector, including its contribution to global warming and water scarcity.

One of the key issues to unlock carbon savings is creating a truly circular economy for textiles.

To do this, the successor to SCAP, Textiles 2030, includes work streams on design for longevity and recyclability, reuse business models and closed loop recycling of textile fibres.

‘The learnings and success of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan have provided the foundations for Textiles 2030. SCAP was the first voluntary agreement of its kind to measure and act within the UK textiles sector and the knowledge we have gained from this agreement has underpinned what needs to happen to make Textiles 2030 even more impactful. Sector-wide change is essential if we are to achieve climate targets and a circular economy in materials, so we have been collaborating with businesses, Governments and other stakeholders to develop Textiles 2030. The public, investment managers and policy makers are all demanding practical action, sustainable products and evidence of outcomes.  We need more companies to show their commitment to action through Textiles 2030, continuing and evolving the legacy of SCAP.’

DR DAVID MOON
Director of collaboration and change at WRAP

Textiles 2030

Over the next decade, Textiles 2030 will slash the environmental impact of UK clothing and home fabrics through practical interventions along the entire textiles chain.

With businesses responsible for over 60% of UK clothing sales, many reuse and recycling businesses, government and knowledge partners committed to taking action through the WRAP-led voluntary agreement, there is the real potential for large-scale change.
 
Textiles 2030 is giving business the opportunity to work together to create a truly circular use of textile products and material in the UK.

92 signatories have committed to Textiles 2030 in just six months, including brands and retailers, reuse and recycling organisations and affiliates. Major household names include ASOS, Boohoo, Dunelm, John Lewis, M&S, New Look, Next, Primark, Sainsbury’s, Ted Baker, Tesco and The Salvation Army.

This means 62% of all clothing put on the UK market is represented by Textiles 2030 signatories who are working towards science-based sustainability targets to minimise their environmental impact.

The agreement is bringing together organisations for action, collaboration and communication via Working Groups and a Signatory Resources Platform.

The Metrics Working Group, made up of experts across Textiles 2030 organisations, has begun work to determine the scope, priority features, and improvement actions which will be captured by the Textiles 2030 Footprint Calculator by early 2022.

Working groups have provided policy insights to help inform Defra consultation on wider textiles policy, and specified the evidence and insights needed for the transition to a circular economy, including through customer engagement.

Textiles Action Week

WRAP is coordinating a week of action (18-22 October 2021) by industry, providing an opportunity for businesses to show what they are doing to reduce their impact on the planet.

A highlight of the week will be The Change in Fashion and Textiles webinar on Wednesday 20 October, introduced by Textiles 2030 ambassador Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE.

The webinar will highlight the power of collaboration and action, new insights on what is needed to halve the carbon impact of new products and reduce water footprint by 30% and testimonials from signatories as to why they have joined Textiles 2030.
 

‘There is an urgent need for us to protect people and planet from the damaging and unsustainable way we produce and consume clothing and textiles. Innovative, creative and committed collaboration is the key, and in effect the only way can we succeed in minimising our impact.
 
‘In just six months, Textiles 2030 has united businesses across the UK and worked with them to take the critical steps needed to transform business practices swiftly and permanently and to fulfil climate goals. What WRAP and Textiles 2030 signatories have achieved so far and the plans which influential brands have for the future serve as an inspiration to us all. In the run up to COP 26, environmental sustainability is rightly at the forefront of industry minds. Every fashion and textile business in the UK has to act now to help us avoid catastrophic climate change. Signing up to Textiles 2030 and acting on that commitment is a big, significant step towards achieving that aim.’

BARONESS YOUNG OF HORNSEY OBE
Crossbench peer, chancellor of the University of Nottingham and an advocate for sustainable textiles

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