16th October 2018

Deadline looms for fashion firms to reveal their dirty secrets

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Ten fashion retailers have until this Friday (Oct 12) to respond to a request by MPs to disclose their environmental and social impacts.

The Commons environmental audit committee has written to the chief executives of Marks and Spencer, Primark, Next, Arcadia, Asda, TK Maxx and Homesense, Tesco, JD Sports Fashion, Debenhams and Sports Direct International to investigate how they can reduce their environmental footprint.

Intensive water and energy processes are used in the production of garments which contribute to climate change and the heads of the fashion brands are urged to disclose the environmental and social impacts of the clothes and shoes they sell.

The UK fashion industry, which is worth £28bn a year, uses chemical dyes, finishes and coatings – some of which are said to be toxic – according to the EAC which also claims when clothes are washed, microplastic fibres are released and pollute the ocean.

The global fashion industry produced more carbon emissions than international flights and maritime shipping combined in 2015, according to a submission from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers,

Mary Creagh MP and EAC chair said: “The way we design, produce and discard our clothes has a huge impact on our planet. Fashion and footwear retailers have a responsibility to minimise their environmental footprint and make sure the workers in their supply chains are paid a living wage. We want to hear what they are doing to make their industry more sustainable.”

Brits are now buying more new clothes than any other European country – almost double compared to Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, according to statistics.
The fashion retailers have been asked whether they use recycled materials, how long clothes are kept and how recycling is encouraged. They also have to consider whether they incinerate unsold or returned stock and what steps they are taking to reduce the risk of microplastics contaminating the ocean.