Sustainability

Businesses commit to SCAP 2020 Commitment

SCAP logo

Yesterday (20 June) companies representing more than a third of UK clothing sales pledged to measure and report the environmental ‘footprint’ of clothing production throughout its lifecycle, and to take action to reduce its impact, as part of WRAP’s voluntary initiative, the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020 Commitment (SCAP).

The Arcadia Group, ASOS, the British Retail Consortium, Defra, I&G Cohen, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and the Textile Recycling Association are among the 22 companies who have already signed the SCAP 2020 Commitment, and others are expected to follow over the coming weeks.

Alongside the commitment, WRAP also announced the launch of a spreadsheet-based ‘footprint’ calculator, which will enable companies to measure their overall carbon, water and waste footprints in the hopes of enabling them to quantify and report the total global impacts of the clothes they make, sell and recover.

WRAP Chief Executive Liz Goodwin said: “We know that overall, clothing contributes around five per cent of the carbon footprint and between six-eight per cent of the water footprint of all the UK’s goods and services. It also accounts for more than one million tonnes of wasted materials, making it the most significant category for consumption impacts after food and drink, housing and transport.

“SCAP is an opportunity for all players in the sector to work together to reduce these impacts, making individual changes for a common good. The launch of the calculator represents an important step forward.”

This baseline data for 2012 will enable the signatories to identify and agree targets for carbon, water and waste savings to be delivered by 2020.

Details of commitment

The commitment focuses on seven action areas, which include the use of lower-impact textile fibres, extending the active life of clothing, recovering material that currently goes in the bin, and providing more information for consumers on environmental impact. Four working groups focus on design, reuse and recycling, influencing consumer behaviour and metrics.

Member organisations can opt to be either a signatory (such as retailers, charities and recyclers) or a supporter (such as sector bodies and NGOs). Signatories must deliver part of the carbon, water and waste footprint reductions through actions that they control (such as garment sales volumes and fibre types fibre choice). This will include recording the weight of clothing collected or handled and its end destination – reuse in the UK or overseas, recycling, incineration and landfill.

Supporters will take an “active role” in promoting good practice in the industry, and deliver consumer information, according to their role within the product lifecycle. Trade bodies will help provide footprint data where appropriate.

Defra clothes infographic

As well as supporting SCAP 2020, Defra has also launched an infographic focusing on clothing waste as part of Recycle Week. 

Lord de Mauley, Defra’s Resource Management Minister, said: “I am very pleased to see so many leading UK organisations signing up and making this important commitment towards reducing the environmental impacts of clothing. I hope that other UK organisations will join them in the coming weeks.

“By working together in this way, government, industry and third sector can deliver real economic benefits, and reduce carbon, waste and water impacts.”

Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Environment Secretary, added: “I am pleased to see the clothing sector working together to find new ways to make more efficient use of resources.  In Scotland, we’re leading the way through Resource Efficient Scotland by helping all businesses reduce the impact of their use of energy, water and raw materials and improving their competitiveness.

“I am keen to see Scottish businesses engaging with the whole supply chain approach demonstrated by this Commitment and helping consumers to make more sustainable clothing choices.”

Read more about WRAP’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020.