Sustainable Clothing Action Plan launched at London Fashion Week

EMBARGOED 0001 20 FEB 2009

A new action plan to make fashion more sustainable and less environmentally damaging was launched today at the start of London Fashion Week, by Defra Minister Lord Hunt.

The Sustainable Clothing Roadmap has brought together over 300 organisations, from high street retailers, to designers and textile manufacturers to battle the environmental impacts of 'throw away fashion'. Companies and some of the biggest names in fashion have signed up to take actions to make a significant difference to the environmental footprint and social inequalities which blights 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.

Lord Philip Hunt, Minister for Sustainability said:
"This action plan represents a concerted effort from the fashion industry, including top names in the high street and manufacturers to change the face of fashion.

"Retailers have a big role to play in ensuring fashion is sustainable. We should all be able to walk into a shop and feel that the clothes we buy have been produced without damaging the environment or using poor labour practices, and that we will be able to reuse and recycle them when we no longer want them.
"I'm delighted that so many fashion companies have signed up to the sustainable clothing action plan and I look forward to seeing these actions come to fruition."

Action takers for the roadmap will be concentrating on the following key areas:
1. Improving environmental performance across the supply chain, including: sustainable design; fibres and fabrics; maximising reuse, recycling and end of life management; and clothes cleaning
2. Awareness, media, education and networks for the sustainability of clothes
3. Promoting markets for sustainable clothing
4. Improving traceability along the supply chain (environmental, ethical, and trade)

Actions that retailers are taking include:
· Marks and Spencer's, Tesco and Sainsbury - All of these have signed up to a range of actions on increasing their ranges of Fair Trade and Organic, increasing take back and recovery of unwanted clothing and supporting fibres/fabrics that enable clothing recycling.
· In addition M&S and Tesco are supporting green clothing factories, animal welfare across their cotton supply chain and increasing consumer awareness on washing at 30 degrees centigrade.
· Tesco - are extending their traceability programme across cotton supply chains to ban cotton from countries known to use child labour as well as carbon labelling of Tesco laundry detergents.
· Nike - Applying their Considered Design ethos to improving the sustainability performance and innovation of all their product ranges
· Continental Clothing - Launched a new clothing line EarthPositive to address broad spectrum of sustainability issues, including organic cotton farming, ethical manufacturing and low carbon footprint.
· Adili and Continental Clothing - Continental Clothing have measured and reduced the carbon footprint of their clothing products. They are now working with sustainable online retailer Adili to promote carbon labelling to consumers.
· T Shirt and Sons - Already using organic cotton to manufacture their T Shirts, T Shirt and Sons are now developing the first Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified system for eco printing on Organic cotton.
· Association of Charity Shops, Oxfam, Salvation Army Trading and Textile Recycling Association - increasing consumer awareness on the environmental benefits of clothing reuse as well as increasing clothing recovery infrastructure in the UK. They will open more "sustainable clothing" boutiques of high quality second-hand clothing and new sustainably designed garments.
· Fair Trade Foundation UK will increase the volume of Fairtrade cotton products to be in at least 10 per cent of cotton clothing in the UK by 2012.
· Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion - Setting up this centre to provide practical business supports to the clothing sector on sustainability and fashion.

Notes to editors
1. Please see the roadmap with all actions and the action areas.
2. For more information on Estethica see
3. Lord Philip Hunt is available for interview bids on Friday 20th February. Please contact Amanda Waller on 020 7238 5608

Adam Smith, CEO
"Adili are really excited to be part of a strategic and pioneering project in sustainable clothing. Ethical clothing is about considering and challenging every step in the supply chain. As a 'consumer facing' retailer we are passionate about sharing learnings with our customers and through our Carbon Labelling work we hope to challenge people's thoughts and behaviours in reducing their own individual footprints."

Carbon Trust
Euan Murray, carbon footprinting general manager:
"Reducing carbon emissions is key to improving the sustainability of the clothing and fashion industry. As consumers increasingly seek to make ethical purchases, being able to communicate the carbon footprint of clothing will play an important part in enabling more informed buying choices. The Carbon Trust is committed to working with businesses to measure and reduce the carbon footprint of their products - and to help them demonstrate this commitment through our Carbon Reduction Label. We are delighted to support the Defra roadmap in this way."

Centre for Sustainable Fashion, London College of Fashion
Dilys Williams, Director:
"The collective action that is evolving through the Defra roadmap is testament to a new mindset in industry and education in this country and beyond. It is the coalition between those involved at every stage of the fashion cycle that is going to redefine what fashion really exemplifies. It is inspiring and energising to be a part of this vision for the future of our industry.

"The Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion extends its focus across research, curriculum and business support to evolve positive change in the ecological, social and cultural dimensions of fashion. Our commitments proclaimed through the Defra roadmap give us the platform to work collaboratively across industry and education creating a new knowledge economy."

Consumer Focus
"With environmental issues so high on the agenda we're delighted to see so many organisations engaging in actions that will help improve the sustainability of the clothing industry. We know that the majority of consumers are keen to lead more environmentally responsible, sustainable lifestyles, so it's good to see some of the barriers such as price, lack of information and convenience being removed."

Continental Clothing
Phil Charles Gamett, Director:
"We are very proud that our EarthPositive® product family serves as a practical demonstration that the ambitious agenda for sustainable clothing set out by Defra is achievable now. Our garments are 100% organic and ethical, with a 90% lower carbon footprint, and at the same time attractive and commercially successful. We welcome the Clothing Roadmap as a broad industry forum, to share our experience and expertise, and to learn from others involved. I believe the Action Plan will spur the clothing industry on to accelerate their efforts."
Mariusz Stochaj, Head of Products:
"In the next few weeks we are launching the first ever Carbon Reduction Label for clothing products, with the aim of informing the consumer of the impact of their clothes on climate change from raw materials and manufacturing, but also, crucially, their own contribution to the carbon footprint through retail choice, washing, drying, ironing and disposal. Defra's Sustainable Clothing Roadmap rightly considers informing, educating and influencing consumers as a critical factor on the road to sustainable products market. We are proud to play a part in this drive by providing consumers with accurate, factual information, and by inviting other brands and retailers to use our experience."

Fairtrade Foundation
Harriet Lamb, Executive Director:
"The Fairtrade Foundation welcomes Defra`s 'Sustainable Clothing Action Plan' which we hope will be a catalyst for collaboration between stakeholders and a another step towards urgently needed change.
"Fairtrade ensures vulnerable small scale cotton farmers, who are at the very bottom of clothing supply chains, get a better deal from trade and can play their part in achieving complete sustainability through the cotton clothing industry.
"We hope that the action plan will be embedded within business practices to bring about poverty alleviation and real solutions for farmers and the environment."

"The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) welcomes Defra's Sustainable Clothing Roadmap and are delighted that this important element of the waste stream is being addressed. Local authorities remain committed to increasing recycling and through this action plan we are working with our partners to raise awareness of this issue and further reduce the amount of textiles being sent to landfill."

Marks and Spencer
Mike Barry, Head of CSR:
"We're delighted that many of the actions from Plan A, our 'eco-plan' have been incorporated into the clothing roadmap. The successful M&S and Oxfam Clothes Exchange is already helping to save millions of garments from landfill and we are keen to share information on initiatives like our 'eco-factories and 'Wash at Thirty' campaign so that in time other clothing retailers will be able to benefit."

Lorrie Vogel, GM Nike Considered:
"Nike is pleased to have joined this multi-stakeholder partnership driven by Defra and focused on establishing a road map for sustainability in the clothing industry. It's this type of progressive action and collaboration that leads to new growth opportunities, industry and consumer commitment to a sustainable future, and encourages proactive engagement rather than taking immediate legislative action.
"The build, buy and bury model is dead. We must design our own future. In order to do that, we need to share intellectual knowledge, create new opportunities for sustainable economic growth and engage the consumer in the process.
"Nike's commitment to sustainability is embodied in our Considered Design ethos, which combines innovation and sustainability into all our products. We are an innovation company and we know that if we want to serve the athlete of tomorrow then we need to design a future in harmony with the planet."

Barney Tallack, Deputy Director of Trading:
"Oxfam is working hard with others to increase the quantity of unwanted clothing that can be saved from landfill and recovered for re-use and recycling. Everyone understands the commercial and environmental imperative behind this key action point."
Sarah Farquhar, Head of Retail Operations:
"The boutiques highlight the importance of sustainability, in particular the good value and environmental sense in re-using clothing. We plan to open new boutiques around the UK during 2009. Oxfam has worked with renowned photographer Rankin, stylist Katie Shillingford and a great team from the world of fashion, music and film to create SUSTAIN ME a campaign that proves sustainable fashion can be both stylish and trend led."

Adrian Mountford, Clothing Unit Director:
"With 18 million customers coming through our doors every week, we have the ability to encourage positive change on important environmental issues relating to clothing. We continue to build on our leading position as the biggest UK retailer of Fairtrade, and now sell a t-shirt made with Fairtrade cotton every ten seconds. We have also brought about tremendous uplift in the use of our clothing recycling banks.
"Sainsbury's will continue to work with Defra and the other companies in the Roadmap project. We believe that by joining forces, we can greatly reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry."

T Shirt and Sons
Andy Lunt, Director:
"We at T Shirt and Sons have been at the forefront of developing licensed organic textiles for several years and as the UK's leading environmental t shirt printer we are pioneering new systems to ensure credibility of certified organic textiles throughout the decoration process. We have a clear vision to ensure that the provenance and integrity of certified t--shirts are retained throughout the whole production cycle.

"Using our position in the marketplace, we believe we have a responsibility to share information within our industry to help promote the use of Organic and Fairtrade cotton. We furthermore believe that by demonstrating 'Good Practice' we can guide other manufacturers in reducing their environmental and carbon footprints and help make the textile industry more sustainable."

Terry Green, Chief Executive:
"We're working hard to roll out across our supply base a pioneering system, which traces the country of origin of cotton supplied to us, as we believe transparency in the supply chain is a key part of sustainability. We share Defra's desire to see long lasting co-ordination within the industry to create sustainability and are proud that all of our current activities are part of their Action Plan."

Textile Recycling Association
Alan Wheeler, National Liaison Manager:
"We fully support the development of Defra's Sustainable Clothing Roadmap. Clothing and Textiles is the UK's fastest growing household waste stream and hence it is crucial for the industry to act now to maximise opportunities to promote re-use and recycling of clothing. The Textile Recycling Association has a good working relationship with the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee and our charity partners and we are working on a strategy that we are sure will deliver significantly greater diversion rates in years to come".

Terry Ralph, President:
"The Textile Recycling Association is delighted to be taking part in this process. The Clothing and Textile industry accounts for an estimated 5 to 10% of all environmental impacts throughout the EU, so improving the environmental performance of the industry is vital. It is also good for the economy. The used clothing industry directly employs thousands of people here in the UK and millions worldwide. It also provides a vital source of income for many UK charities.and can generate significant revenues for local authorities, which can help to offset the cost of operating other waste and recycling collections".

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