MPs are demanding a ‘fast fashion’ tax on throwaway clothes to help deal with waste generated by the industry.
The charge would amount to 1p per item and would fund the collection and recycling of the £140million worth of clothes discarded by Britons every year.
Experts estimate the levy could raise £35million a year towards the cost of dealing with this vast mountain of fast fashion waste.
The call comes from MPs across all parties on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), who are also urging schools to teach children how to make and repair clothes in a return to the ‘make do and mend’ approach.
The Daily Mail’s Great British Spring Clean campaign is encouraging a nationwide litter-pick to rid the UK of discarded rubbish (pictured in Wales). Now, MPs are demanding a ‘fast fashion’ tax on throwaway clothes
Most of the 430,000 tons of old clothes which are thrown away annually are put into landfill sites such as this one in Dorset
The MPs say the tax system should be reformed to reward companies offering clothing repairs and using sustainable materials such as wool.
Britons buy around 1.1million tons of new clothing each year – equating to 26.7kg per person – in a fast fashion culture fuelled by online retails such as Boohoo and ASOS, which sell dresses for as little as £5.
Around 430,000 tons is thrown in household bins, most of which goes to landfill, while many fast fashion items – from socks to dresses – are made from plastic and shed billions of polluting particles into sewers, rivers and seas when washed.
The Daily Mail has led the way in highlighting the scourge of global plastic pollution with its Turn The Tide On Plastic campaign and next month’s Great British Spring Clean, which has already recruited 95,989 volunteers to help clean up Britain in a nationwide litter-pick.
Chairman of the EAC, Mary Creagh MP, 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.’
Just this week, ministers announced a consultation on a scheme that would hit companies using packaging that is difficult with fees under what is called the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system.
Labour MP Mary Creagh, who chairs the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, is demanding a 1p tax on each item of clothing
Miss Creagh said this same principle should be applied to clothing, adding: ‘Fashion retailers must take responsibility for the clothes they produce.’
Boohoo did not comment on the idea of a fashion tax, but said it supports recycling. A spokesman said: ‘We continue to consider how best we can ensure our businesses operate in a way that promotes the sustainability of fashion.’
Alan Wheeler, of the Textile Recycling Association, backed the levy, saying: ‘By putting a levy of 1p on each garment sold in the UK, we could raise £35million annually, which could fund much-needed research and development projects.’
HOW MUCH RECYCLING ENDS UP IN LANDFILL?
Every day, millions of us drop a plastic bottle or cardboard container into the recycling bin – and we feel we’re doing our bit for the environment.
But what we may not realise is that most plastic never gets recycled at all, often ending up in landfill or incineration depots instead.
Of 30 billion plastic bottles used by UK households each year, only 57 per cent are currently recycled, with half going to landfill, half go to waste.
Most plastic never gets recycled at all, often ending up in landfill or incineration depots instead. Around 700,000 plastic bottles a day end up as litter
Around 700,000 plastic bottles a day end up as litter.
This is largely due to plastic wrapping around bottles that are non-recyclable.
Every year, the UK throws away 2.5 billion ‘paper’ cups, amounting to 5,000 cups a minute.
Shockingly, less than 0.4 per cent of these are recycled.
Most cups are made from cardboard with a thin layer of plastic.
This lining keeps your coffee warm and stops the cardboard going soggy, but also makes the cup almost impossible to recycle.