UK fashion industry growth affecting sustainability targets: WRAP

British fashion industry’s growth is affecting sustainability targets due to the heavy environmental impact from brands, retailers and manufacturers. More than 62 per cent of the UK clothing market, including retailers and producers, have signed up to a programme by climate action non-profit WRAP to reduce their impact, a new WRAP report said.

The report, called the Textiles 2030 Annual Progress Report 2021-22, says signatories will need to work together to significantly reduce impacts by adopting and increasing the implementation of actions beyond fibre substitution, such as clean and efficient production, improved product design, reducing the production of new products and implementing effective circular business models to decouple business growth from the use of new resources.

Despite sourcing better quality fibres, sales growth has pushed reporting signatories’ carbon emissions and water use in the wrong direction, WRAP said.

Reductions in carbon footprints, water usage and embracing circular businesses is far slower than the rate of growth.

As the United Kingdom has announced policies and proposals to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy to meet its binding 2050 net zero target, there is a rising focus on the need to reduce consumption-based emissions.

WRAP has introduced a tool using product data to calculate carbon and water impacts and suggest strategies for improvement. Called the Textiles 2030 Footprint Calculator, the tool covers the whole product lifecycle including materials, manufacture, retail, consumer use and disposal.

In 2019 a footprint of 11.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide of textiles sold and or placed on the market was emitted by its signatories. This increased by 4.4 per cent last year to 12.1 million tonnes.

The footprints have increased due to a significant growth in the volume of clothing and home textiles sold or placed on the market last year. Total fibre tonnages rose by 6 per cent over the period—from 465,731 tonnes in 2019 to 493,546 tonnes in 2021.