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Fast fashion and low prices are responsible for clothing disposals

The apparel industry is a major contributor to waste and carbon use. Recycling charity Textile Reuse & International Development (TRAID) said this.

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TRAID is a charity working to stop clothes from being thrown away. They turn clothes waste into funds and resources to reduce the environmental and social impacts of the clothes.

Fast fashion and low prices responsible for clothing disposals
Figure: ‘Fast’ fashion meant the amount of discarded material had increased sharply in recent years.

In evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) hearing on the sustainability of the fashion industry, the trend towards disposable ‘fast’ fashion meant the amount of discarded material had increased sharply in recent years, said TRAID.

According to TRAID, some 650,000 tons of clothing were collected for reuse and recycling in 2014, and a survey two years later by the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan found 39% was donated to charity shops.

18% was given through charity bag household collections, 13% brought to textile banks, 7% was sold and 6% of disposed of in general waste collections.

Our recent evidence hearing raised alarm bells about the fast-growing online-only retail sector. Low-quality £5 dresses aimed at young people are said to be made by workers on illegally low wages and are discarded almost instantly, causing mountains of non-recycled waste to pile up.

Mary Creagh, EAC Chair, Labour’s MP

It said that if the fashion industry continued to operate under its current model then, by 2050, it could use more than 26% of the carbon budget allocated for keeping within reach of the 2°C average global warming limit.

Because of fast-changing trends and low prices a significant increase in clothing purchases is happening. As a result, the rate of discarding, with 1.13 million tonnes of clothing purchased in the UK in 2016, a 200,000 increase in four years.

The committee last week called on retailers Amazon, ASOS, Pretty Little Thing and Missguided to give evidence to the inquiry.

Also Read: Fast fashion creates an imbalanced situation in product life-cycle

EAC Chair, Labour’s MP, Mary Creagh, said, “Our recent evidence hearing raised alarm bells about the fast-growing online-only retail sector. Low-quality £5 dresses aimed at young people are said to be made by workers on illegally low wages and are discarded almost instantly, causing mountains of non-recycled waste to pile up.”

EAC Chair, also informed that they would be calling some of these online retailers in front of the committee to answer questions.

“But, in the meantime, my letters encourage them to face up to the social and environmental consequences of their business models,” she also added.

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