Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Sustainable Clothing action plan launched at London Fashion Week

Sustainable Clothing action plan launched at London Fashion Week

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (39/09) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 20 February 2009

A new action plan to make fashion more sustainable and less environmentally damaging was launched today at the start of London Fashion Week, by Defra Minister Lord Hunt.

The Sustainable Clothing Roadmap has brought together over 300 organisations, from high street retailers, to designers and textile manufacturers to battle the environmental impacts of 'throw away fashion'. Companies and some of the biggest names in fashion have signed up to take actions to make a significant difference to the environmental footprint and social inequalities which blight some of the production and retail processes of consumer fashion.

While having many economic benefits, clothing has a significant environmental and ethical impact ranging from increased carbon emissions, waste, water usage and pollution to child labour and unfair trading conditions. The clothing and textiles sector in the UK alone produces around 3.1 million tonnes of CO2, 2 million tonnes of waste and 70 million tonnes of waste water per year - with 1.5 million tonnes of unwanted clothing ultimately ending up in landfill.

Lord Philip Hunt, Minister for Sustainability said:
"This action plan represents a concerted effort from the fashion industry, including top names in the high street and manufacturers to change the face of fashion.

"Retailers have a big role to play in ensuring fashion is sustainable. We should all be able to walk into a shop and feel that the clothes we buy have been produced without damaging the environment or using poor labour practices, and that we will be able to reuse and recycle them when we no longer want them.

"I'm delighted that so many fashion companies have signed up to the sustainable clothing action plan and I look forward to seeing these actions come to fruition."

Action takers for the roadmap will be concentrating on the following key areas:
1. Improving environmental performance across the supply chain, including: sustainable design; fibres and fabrics; maximising reuse, recycling and end of life management; and clothes cleaning.
2. Awareness, media, education and networks for the sustainability of clothes.
3. Promoting markets for sustainable clothing.
4. Improving traceability along the supply chain (environmental, ethical, and trade).

Actions that retailers are taking include:

* Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury - all of these have signed up to a range of actions on increasing their ranges of Fair Trade and Organic, increasing take back and recovery of unwanted clothing and supporting fibres/fabrics that enable clothing recycling.
* In addition M&S and Tesco are supporting green clothing factories, improving
animal welfare across their supply chain and increasing consumer awareness on washing at 30 degrees centigrade.
* Tesco - are extending their traceability programme across cotton supply chains to ban cotton from countries known to use child labour as well as carbon labelling of Tesco laundry detergents.
* Nike - applying their Considered Design ethos to improving the sustainability performance and innovation of all their product ranges
* Adili and Continental Clothing - Continental Clothing have measured and reduced the carbon footprint of their clothing products. They are now working with sustainable online retailer Adili to promote carbon labelling to consumers.
* T Shirt and Sons - already using organic cotton to manufacture their T Shirts, T Shirt and Sons are now developing the first Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified system for eco printing on Organic cotton.
* Association of Charity Shops, Oxfam, Salvation Army Trading and Textile Recycling Association - increasing consumer awareness on the environmental benefits of clothing reuse as well as increasing clothing recovery infrastructure in the UK. They will open more "sustainable clothing" boutiques of high quality second-hand clothing and new sustainably designed garments.
* Fair Trade Foundation UK - will increase the volume of Fairtrade cotton products to be in at least 10 per cent of cotton clothing in the UK by 2012.
* Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion - setting up this centre to provide practical business supports to the clothing sector on sustainability and fashion.

Notes to editors

1. Please see the roadmap with all actions and the action areas.
2. For more information on Estethica see
3. Please see quotes from Action Plan participants

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