Clothing and textile businesses show progress on the road to net zero

WRAP has published the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan final report as the culmination of eight years of collaborative action by sector leaders. In parallel, the Textiles 2030 progress report sets out the practical actions already underway in the successor agreement for the sector to halve GHG emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.  

Key results

The Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020 Commitment (SCAP) united fashion brands, retailers, charity retailers, textile recycling companies, academia, governments and other stakeholders to reduce the impact of clothing in the UK. Between 2012 and 2020, this pioneering, industry-led action plan delivered effective environmental and economic outcomes. The final report shows that SCAP exceeded its carbon and water footprint targets, although it struggled to complete the waste element. The most impactful change by signatories was a radical increase in the use of more sustainable fibres, from close to zero in 2012, to over 100,000 tonnes in 2020.

%

Carbon footprint

Water footprint

Waste Footprint

Clothing in household waste
Target – 15% – 15% – 3.5% -15%
Outcome – 21.6% – 18.2% – 2.1% – 4%
  • Footprint targets are for reductions in the whole-life impact of clothing sold in the UK by SCAP signatories per tonne of clothing sold.

The target to reduce clothing to landfill or incineration by 15% had not been met pre-pandemic; the 4% measured reduction relates to 2017. Progress cannot be reported in the SCAP closing report due to a lack of recent waste data, but will be updated in 2022. However, the target is not expected to have been met in 2020 due to the impacts of the pandemic on collections, reuse and recycling of unwanted clothing.

Improvement actions carried out by SCAP signatories each year, have grown more than 10-fold through the agreement. Actions included switching to more sustainable fibres, low impact dyeing, introducing hire and repair services, collecting clothing for reuse, designing for longer life, and more efficient production. SCAP achieved these results through:

  • Sharing robust evidence – for example, in 2012, the Valuing our Clothes report received worldwide attention for highlighting the impacts of the industry and creating the evidence base for action.
  • Measuring impacts across all clothing sales and across the life cycle – working with WRAP, SCAP signatories developed and agreed a footprint measurement approach and tool that allowed progress to be tracked and effort focused on improvement actions.
  • Through collaborative work to share insights and focus effort – under WRAP’s leadership, SCAP produced the Durability Protocol, the Sustainable Clothing Guide and the Sustainable Design Toolkit – all providing first-of-a-kind guidance to clothing brands on how to design for lower footprint.

Challenges still loom large for the textiles sector, including its contribution to global warming and water scarcity. One of the key issues to unlock carbon savings is creating a truly circular economy for textiles. To do this, the successor to SCAP, Textiles 2030, includes work streams on design for longevity and recyclability, reuse business models, and closed loop recycling of textile fibres.

 

Dr David Moon, Director of Collaboration and Change at WRAP said: “The learnings and success of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan have provided the foundations for Textiles 2030. SCAP was the first voluntary agreement of its kind to measure and act within the UK textiles sector and the knowledge we have gained from this agreement has underpinned what needs to happen to make Textiles 2030 even more impactful. Sector-wide change is essential if we are to achieve climate targets and a circular economy in materials, so we have been collaborating with businesses, Governments and other stakeholders to develop Textiles 2030. The public, investment managers and policy makers are all demanding practical action, sustainable products and evidence of outcomes.  We need more companies to show their commitment to action through Textiles 2030, continuing and evolving the legacy of SCAP.”

Textiles 2030: UK Sustainable Textiles Action Plan

Launched by WRAP in April 2021, Textiles 2030 is the world’s most ambitious programme for sustainability in clothing and textiles. Over the next decade, Textiles 2030 will slash the environmental impact of UK clothing and home fabrics through practical interventions along the entire textiles chain. With businesses responsible for over 60% of UK clothing sales, many reuse & recycling businesses, government and knowledge partners committed to taking action through the WRAP-led voluntary agreement, there is the real potential for large scale change.

Textiles 2030 is giving business the opportunity to work together to create a truly circular use of textile products and material in the UK.

What Textiles 2030 has achieved since April:

  • 92 signatories have committed to Textiles 2030 in just six months, including brands and retailers, reuse and recycling organisations and affiliates. Major household names include ASOSBoohoo, Dunelm, John LewisM&S, New Look, Next, Primark, Sainsbury’s, Ted Baker, Tesco and The Salvation Army.
  • This means 62% of all clothing put on the UK market is represented by Textiles 2030 signatories who are working towards science-based sustainability targets* to minimise their environmental impact.
  • The agreement is bringing together organisations for action, collaboration and communication via Working Groups and a Signatory Resources Platform.
  • The Metrics Working Group, made up of experts across Textiles 2030 organisations, has begun work to determine the scope, priority features, and improvement actions which will be captured by the Textiles 2030 Footprint Calculator by early 2022.
  • Working Groups have provided policy insights to help inform Defra consultation on wider textiles policy, and specified the evidence and insights needed for the transition to a circular economy, including through customer engagement.

Actions by signatories:

  • Dunelm will launch its first 100% recycled cotton bedding collection for Spring/Summer 2022. This is a huge step forward and shows the progress made to source materials sustainability, focusing on a circular economy.
  • JD Sports will reduce its carbon emissions in accordance with the goals of Textiles 2030, and its corporate targets (aligned to the 1.5 degree scenario within the Paris Agreement). It is a 100% renewable energy business in the UK and intends to advocate for the use of renewable energy across its supply chain.
  • Mint Velvet is continuing to reduce its carbon and water footprint by swapping out conventional materials for more sustainable alternatives and by working with its suppliers on adopting manufacturing processes that are better for the environment.

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