Defra & the Action Plan
Sustainable Clothing Action Plan
February 2009, the UK Government Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) launched the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan. The research and consultation that preceded the Action Plan brought together over three hundred UK fashion & textile organisations, from high street retailers, to designers and textile manufacturers to battle the environmental impacts of our industry. UK brands, suppliers and support organisations 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.
The 2010 Sustainable Clothing Action Plan was launched at an event at London’s Southbank Centre on 23 February.
The Centre for Sustainable Fashion has worked closely with Defra on this initiative since it commenced in 2007, and has been cited within the Action Plan as a strategic partner to deliver change across the UK industry. In fact the Shared Talent India project was conceived as a result of the Action Plan, and funded by the UK and India Sustainable Development Dialogue fund.
Through the consultation period Defra commissioned and collated significant research into the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry, including:
- Mapping the sustainable development impacts across the life cycle of clothing (December 2007)
- Public understanding of sustainable clothing (November 2008)
The Centre for Sustainable Fashion will continue to work with the UK government through Defra’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan and will report developments as they take place.