Defra launches Waste Prevention Programme consultation on Global Recycling Day

A consultation has been launched by the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on Global Recycling Day (18 March), to open the floor to suggestions on its Waste Prevention Programme for England.

The Waste Prevention Programme for England sits alongside the Waste Management Plan for England, and aims to prevent waste by increasing reuse repair and remanufacturing of products, among other measures.

Textile industryThe Programme focuses on preventing waste across seven sectors: construction; textiles; furniture; electrical and electronics products; road vehicles; packaging, plastics and single-use items; and food.

The Programme lays out potential government action on waste prevention, as well as how the industry is currently tackling the issue, and what more can be done going forward.

The Government’s consultation will gather responses on its proposals for textiles from stakeholders until the end of 2022. One such proposal is an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) initiative, which would ensure that the industry provides partial subsidies to the costs of recycling.

Additionally, the consultation suggests improvements to design and labelling, which would serve to increase textile recycling and reuse.

Defra stresses the tangible impact that textile production has on the environment, stating that the fashion industry is accountable for 4 per cent of annual global emissions, and textile production contributes to greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the ‘combined annual emissions of France, Germany and the UK’.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “We are firmly committed to ending the ‘throwaway’ culture as we build back greener.

“Major retailers and fashion brands have made strides in reducing their environmental footprint but there is more we must do.

“That is why, through our world-leading Environment Bill and landmark reforms, we will take steps to tackle fast fashion by incentivising recycling and encouraging innovation in new design.”

Defra has also introduced Textiles 2030, an initiative that would aim to ‘galvanise ambitious industry action’ over the next ten years.

The scheme outlines a science-based strategy, available to sign by member signatories who will contribute to policy discussions and help draft the EPR initiative.

This leads on from the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP 2020) coordinated by WRAP, which has seen retailers in the textiles industry, such as M&S, ASOS and Next, cut their water and carbon footprint per tonne by 19.5 per cent in 2012 and 15.9 per cent in 2019, respectively.

Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP, commented: “WRAP welcomes the focus this consultation brings on the need to create a more circular economy. We will not achieve net zero without taking action on the way we produce, use and dispose of the products we rely on to live our lives.

“When we throw things away, we waste all the carbon, water, materials and labour that have gone into making them. Our new Textiles 2030 business collaboration commitment exemplifies the ambition of COP26 and will halve the impact of textiles sold in the UK by 2030.

It follows on from the successful Sustainable Clothing Action Plan and will showcase businesses who are taking responsibility and reducing the impact of the products they put on the market. It launches in April, and many major UK brands and retailers are already signed up.”

The consultation on the Waste Prevention Programme will attempt to gauge how the Environment Bill can be used to set standards for specific sectors known to have damaging effects on the environment.