MPs Suggest A 'Penny Tax' On Fast Fashion To Help Curb Pollution

“Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth."

Fast fashion retailers should be made to pay a 1p surcharge on every garment sold in a bid to help fund schemes that collect and recycle clothes, MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee have said.

Textile production contributes to climate change more than international air travel and shipping combined and is leaking synthetic fibres into our oceans, and retailers should therefore help fund schemes that collect and recycle clothes, they said.

The ‘penny tax’ is one of a series of recommendations made by the committee in a report investigating the sustainability of the clothing industry.

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It also recommends that fashion brands work together with washing machine manufacturers and water companies to tackle microfibre pollution from clothes washing, and that children between the ages of seven and 14 should be taught to mend their clothes in school to tackle the UK’s “throwaway fashion” culture.

We buy more clothes per person in the UK than any other country in Europe – and around 300,000 tonnes of textile waste ends up in household black bins every year, sent to landfill or incinerators. Currently, the report said, less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing at the end of its life.

The report recommends government ban brands from incinerating or landfilling unsold stock that can be reused or recycled – a relatively common practice in the industry.

“Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth. Our insatiable appetite for clothes comes with a huge social and environmental price tag: carbon emissions, water use, chemical and plastic pollution are all destroying our environment,” the committee chair Mary Creagh MP said.

“Fashion retailers must take responsibility for the clothes they produce... The government must act to end the era of throwaway fashion,” she added.

Creagh said teaching children “the joy of making and mending clothes” could also act as an “antidote to anxiety and the mental health crisis in teenagers.”