Leading retailers first to sign up to European Clothing Action Plan

Five leading fashion brands and retailers have become the first to commit to the European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP), a Europe-wide strategy to improve sustainability and embed a circular economy approach in the fashion industry through reducing the industry’s carbon, water and waste footprints and encouraging re-use of old clothes.

Leading retailers first to sign up to European Clothing Action PlanThe brands and retailers – Bobo Choses, OVS, Peak Performance, Primark, and Star Stock – are the first to sign up to the three-year plan worth €3.6 million (£2.6 million) led by the Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP) and funded by the EU LIFE programme.

The clothing industry currently faces a huge waste and sustainability challenge. WRAP figures show that the UK’s domestic clothing consumption stood at 1.1 million tonnes in 2015, 620,000 tonnes of which went to landfill (as of 2013/14), while the equivalent of seven tonnes of unwanted clothing are thrown away every ten minutes in the UK.

Added to this is the fact that the clothing industry makes up five per cent of the UK’s total carbon and water footprints, consumes vast amounts of natural resources and causes the release of hazardous gases, pesticides and dyes into the environment.

The ECAP aims to increase sustainability in the sector across Europe through:

  • designing and specifying products for longer life and closed-loop production;
  • ensuring that less clothing goes to incineration and landfill;
  • encouraging customers to buy less clothing and use it for longer; and
  • improving innovation in resource-efficient design and service models to encourage business growth in the sector.

In line with these aims, the new participants in the ECAP will be helped to divert 90,000 tonnes of clothing waste from landfill and incineration, save 1.6 million tons of CO2e, and make 588 million cubic metres of water savings.

Support from the ECAP will come in the form of help to understand the business’ current environmental impact of their fibre footprint as well as aid in the development of a strategy to reduce impact through transition to sustainable textile alternatives, such as sustainable cotton.

Speaking about the new participants, Sarah Clayton, WRAP’s Head of Products, said: “As the first participants of ECAP, these organisations are championing sustainable clothing across Europe.

“The wheels are in motion, but more can be done – we are looking to welcome and involve more brands, retailers, manufacturers, reuse and recycling organisations, charities and consumers in the plan to drive greater sustainability of clothing across Europe.”

Building on the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan

The ECAP builds on WRAP’s UK-based Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP 2020), which works to reduce the environmental impact right through the clothing production chain, with 82 organisations, including the likes of John Lewis and ASOS.

SCAP 2020 was launched in 2013 and, as of last November, had led to a 12.5 per cent reduction in water impacts, and a 3.5 per cent reduction in carbon impacts by last year, with a 15 per cent reduction target for both by 2020. However, the plan has thus far failed to make much headway into the target of reducing waste arisings by 3.5 per cent, as waste has remained constant.

Building on these principles with a set of ‘ambitious’ targets, the ECAP is active in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK, and aims to move into other European countries and Asia in the future.

Responsible for the delivery of ECAP are five organisations from the UK, the Netherlands, and Denmark:

  • WRAP – the UK based resource efficiency specialists.
  • MADE-BY – a European sustainable fashion non-profit organization.
  • Rijkswaterstaat (RWS) – a department of the Dutch ministry of Infrastructure and Environment working towards a sustainable environment.
  • Danish Fashion Institute (DAFI) – an organization that pioneers sustainability in the Danish fashion industry.
  • London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) – a statutory Board proving waste management strategy in London.

Businesses expect partnership to be “highly beneficial”

Following their new commitment to the ECAP, the five new participants gave their thoughts on the agreement.

Åsa Andersson, CR & Quality Manager at Peak Performance, said: “We expect the ECAP project to be highly beneficial for us. It gives us the opportunity to work in collaboration with professional partners and likeminded brands, and furthermore has the potential to propel our product sustainability to the next level.”

Katharine Stewart, Director of Ethical Trade at Primark, said: “At Primark we are committed to reducing the impact that we have on the environment, and as part of that commitment we have signed up to the European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP).  We look forward to working with ECAP and achieving our environmental sustainability goals.”

Eric Roosen, Founder of Star Sock, said: “ECAP helps Star Sock to organize practical solutions to act on reducing our footprints. With this help we can offer better socks for European consumers and for the environment within the same steps.”

Adriana Esperalba Esquerra, Creative Director of Bobo Choses, said: “Creating new and fun worlds for children that have a positive impact is at the core of the Bobo Choses brand. We joined ECAP in order to work together with partners such as MADE-BY and other brands so as to help drive sustainability across our brand and value chain in an integrated way. We are excited to be an ECAP participant and look forward to working towards achieving the collective environmental reduction targets.”

More information about the European Clothing Action Plan can be found at the programme’s website.

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