European Clothing Action Plan launched

European Clothing Action Plan launchedA new project addressing the carbon, waste and water footprints of clothing in the EU has been launched today (21 October).

Led by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and funded by the EU LIFE programme, the European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP) projectwill work with brands, retailers, manufacturers, reuse and recycling organisations, charities and consumers to reduce the environmental impact of clothing and promote the economic benefits of a more sustainable approach.

Through the €3.6-million (£2.6-million) pilot project, all agents in the fashion supply chain will be supported to:

  • design and specify products for longer life and closed-loop production;
  • ensure that less clothing goes to incineration and landfill;
  • encourage consumers to buy less clothing and use it for longer; and
  • improve innovation in resource-efficient design and service models to encourage business growth in the sector.

During the course of the three-year project, WRAP will work in partnership with sustainable fashion consultancy MADE-BY, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and environment agency Rijkswaterstaat, the Danish Fashion Institute and the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB).

Together the partners hope to divert over 90,000 tonnes of clothing per year from landfill and incineration across Europe by March 2019. To achieve this, ECAP will ask signatories to agree to measure success against a set of ‘ambitious’ targets.

As part of the pilot project, ECAP will be active in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK, with plans to expand into other countries in Europe and Asia at a later date.

Following SCAP’s principles

European Clothing Action Plan launchedThe ECAP project is based on the principles of WRAP’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), which has been working to improve the sustainability of the fashion sector in the UK.

According to WRAP, the clothing industry represents the fifth-largest environmental footprint of any UK industry, after transport, utilities, construction and food.

In 2013, WRAP launched the SCAP 2020 Commitment, which set four targets for signatories. From a baseline year of 2012, signatories committed to achieve, by 2020:

  • 15 per cent reductions in carbon footprint;
  • 15 per cent reductions in water footprint;
  • 15 per cent reductions in waste to landfill; and
  • 3.5 per cent reductions in waste arisings over the whole product life cycle.

To date, 80 organisations have signed up to the commitment including large retailers ASOS, John Lewis, Debenhams, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Tesco.  Should the targets be met, WRAP estimates that more than 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, 420 million cubic metres of water and over 16,000 tonnes of waste arisings could be saved every year.

Textiles ‘can set an example for other supply chains’

Commenting on the new project, Liz Goodwin, CEO of WRAP, said: “Finding more sustainable ways to work with textiles is an area set to deliver huge benefits – both economic and environmental. To be leading on a project of this magnitude is something I am very excited about, and applying tried and tested approaches, such as voluntary agreements and consumer campaigns across Europe, will really take our expertise to the next level.”

Arjan de Zeeuw, Director of Environment at Rijkswaterstaat, added: “In the Netherlands, Rijkswaterstaat is working on the Dutch national programme ‘From Waste to Resource’. This programme will give a boost to the circular economy, recycling and resource efficiency in several supply chains.

“One of the priorities is textiles, which can set an example for other supply chains. The textiles supply chain is operating on a global scale, international cooperation will strengthen the activities of all stakeholders towards sustainability.”

Jonas Eder-Hansen, Vice President and Development Director at the Danish Fashion Institute, said: “Up to 80 per cent of a garment’s environmental impact is decided in the design phase. Only few designers and product developers realise their potential to create sustainable change through their decision. As part of ECAP, [we are] excited to create an online learning platform for designers and product developers to fulfil their potential and design for longevity.”

Learn more about the European Clothing Action Plan.

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