Companies representing more than a third of UK clothing sales have signed up to a commitment to measure and report the environmental ‘footprint’ of clothing throughout its life, and to take action to reduce the impact.
High street retailers, charities, recyclers and other major players in the clothing sector are among those who have already signed the SCAP 2020 Commitment, and others are expected to follow over the coming weeks.
To help organisations measure their overall carbon, water and waste footprints, WRAP, on behalf of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), has developed a spreadsheet-based ‘footprint’ calculator. This tool, for the first time, will enable companies to quantify and report the total global impacts of the clothes they make, sell and recover, in a consistent way.
This baseline data for 2012 will enable the signatories not only to identify and agree targets for carbon, water and waste savings, to be delivered by 2020, but also to identify ‘next steps’.
The organisations will focus on a number of areas including the use of lower-impact textile fibres, extending the active life of clothing, recovering material which currently goes in the bin, and providing more information for consumers.
Arcadia Group, ASOS, British Retail Consortium, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Clothes Aid, Defra, I&G Cohen, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Next, Sainsbury’s, Salvation Army Trading Company, Tesco and the Textile Recycling Association are among the first to sign up to the commitment.
WRAP Chief Executive Liz Goodwin said: “The fact that 22 organisations have already signed a commitment that explicitly sets out their determination to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints of clothing is very encouraging.
“We know that overall, clothing contributes around 5% of the carbon footprint and between 6-8% of the water footprint of all the UK’s goods and services. It also accounts for more than 1 million tonnes of wasted materials, making it the most significant category for consumption impacts after food and drink, housing and transport.
“SCAP is an opportunity for all players in the sector to work together to reduce these impacts, making individual changes for a common good. The launch of the calculator represents an important step forward.”
Added Liz: “This is an important milestone in a journey that began last summer with the launch of the Valuing our Clothes report, which set out the scale and the nature of some of the opportunities available to the sector.”
Lord de Mauley, Defra’s Resource Management Minister, said: “I am very pleased to see so many leading UK organisations signing up and making this important commitment towards reducing the environmental impacts of clothing. I hope that other UK organisations will join them in the coming weeks.
“By working together in this way, government, industry and third sector can deliver real economic benefits, and reduce carbon, waste and water impacts.”
Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Environment Secretary, said: “I am pleased to see the clothing sector working together to find new ways to make more efficient use of resources. In Scotland, we’re leading the way through Resource Efficient Scotland by helping all businesses reduce the impact of their use of energy, water and raw materials and improving their competitiveness.
“I am keen to see Scottish businesses engaging with the whole supply chain approach demonstrated by this Commitment and helping consumers to make more sustainable clothing choices.”
SCAP, which is co-ordinated by WRAP, is overseen by a Steering Group consisting of major retailers, brands, recyclers, sector bodies, NGOs and charities, and has four working groups. SCAP’s ambition is to improve the sustainability of clothing across its lifecycle. By bringing together industry, government and the third sector, the programme aims to reduce resource use and secure recognition for corporate performance by developing sector-wide targets.
SCAP 2020 is a sector commitment which introduces a new phase of collective action, building on the evidence base and stakeholder engagement created by SCAP.
There are two categories relating to SCAP 2020 – Signatories (such as retailers, charities and recyclers) and Supporters (such as sector bodies and NGOs). Signatories will deliver part of the carbon, water and waste footprint reductions through actions which they control (such as fibre choice). Where relevant, retailers may focus their actions on own-brand clothing. Delivering the rest of the footprint reduction depends on changes in consumer behaviour, which Signatories will seek to influence through consistent and co-ordinated delivery of consumer information.
Supporters will help to develop and promote good practice in the industry and deliver consumer information, according to their role within the product life-cycle. Trade bodies will help provide footprint data where appropriate.
Information about SCAP can be found here: http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/sustainable-clothing-action-plan-1