WRAP announces SCAP progress

WRAP announces SCAP progressThe Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020 (SCAP), spearheaded by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), has seen the clothing supply chain reduce water and carbon impacts, though waste arisings have not fallen, it was announced today (5 November).

Brands and organisations from across the clothing supply chain have reduced water impacts by 12.5 per cent per tonne of clothing and carbon impacts by 3.5 per cent since its launch two years ago, WRAP announced today at its annual conference. These figures come against a 15 per cent reduction target for both areas by 2020.

SCAP signatories have also committed to reduce waste arisings by 3.5 per cent by 2020, but waste has so far remained constant. An additional target of reducing waste to landfill by 15 per cent by 2020 will not be reported on until next year.

According to WRAP, the clothing industry represents the fifth biggest environmental footprint of any UK industry, after transport, utilities, construction and food. WRAP released a list of key action areas that could reduce this impact and SCAP 2020 was subsequently launched in 2013. With the support of 82 signatories, SCAP focuses on ‘key action areas’, including:

  • increasing the use of lower impact fibres;
  • increasing product durability;
  • increasing reuse and recycling;
  • helping consumers care for clothing and reducing waste to landfill (through WRAP’s consumer campaign Love Your Clothes); and
  • working with supply chains to reduce waste arisings

SCAP’s targets

By meeting the SCAP targets, WRAP hopes to save:

  • more than 1,200,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year – equal to the annual CO2  emissions of nearly 250,000 cars;
  • 420,000,000 cubic metres of water per year – equivalent to more than 160,000 Olympic sized swimming pools; and
  • over 16,000 tonnes of waste arising.

SCAP is also targeting the public in a bid to change attitudes towards clothing, and last year held an inaugural competition: Extending the Life of Clothes Design Award. This challenged designers to address the key reasons for garment failure and find ways to increase clothing lifespan, while providing fashionable and sellable products.

In addition to the progress on targets, WRAP announced other changes have been made over the past two years. More sustainable fibre choices, for example, have contributed to the overall water reduction result. An example provided by WRAP is the cotton industry, which is moving away from conventional cotton to lower impact cottons such as those accredited by the Better Cotton Initiative. WRAP has also noted a move towards recycled material over virgin options, particularly for polyester.

As well as leading the UK-based SCAP, WRAP last month announced the launch of the new European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP), which it will also lead. The EU Life-funded ECAP will follow the SCAP principles and aim to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints of clothing across the EU.

WRAP supporting signatories

Earlier this week, clothing brand George (at Asda) signed up to the SCAP 2020 commitment, meaning that the signatories now represent over 50 per cent of the UK retail market by sales, volume and value.

To help signatories and supporters take action, WRAP will publish a Sustainable Clothing Guide, aimed at designers, manufacturers and retailers hoping to enhance clothing durability and performance.

Signatories are also being encouraged to target the consumer as well the producer through WRAP’s Love Your Clothes campaign, designed to make the public think about how they buy, use and pass on their clothing, already advocated by John Lewis and Clothes Aid.

Still more to do but must “capitalise on the momentum”

Commenting on the programme’s progress, WRAP Director, Marcus Gover, said: “SCAP signatories have made great progress against the targets to date, particularly water. This is a positive indication of what can be achieved and we must capitalise on the momentum we’ve built. We will be working with the sector to ensure focus is maintained on priority areas. And whilst waste arisings haven’t been reduced, they have remained stable and we are encouraging concentrated efforts in this area.” 

Rory Stewart, Defra’s Resource Minister, added: “Clothing brands and stores can make a valuable contribution towards a sustainable environment – by extending the life of clothes, making better use of resources and encouraging reuse and recycling.

“These early results demonstrate good progress, and while there is still more to do, I’m pleased so many companies have signed up and are taking on this challenge.”

Scotland’s Environmental Secretary, Richard Lochhead, said: “There is an estimated £2.5 billion worth of unworn clothing in Scotland’s wardrobes – that’s a lot of money to have sitting in the back of a cupboard gathering dust, so it’s great to see an emphasis on reuse and garment care. This fits in well with Scotland’s circular economy ambitions of keeping resources in as high-value use as possible for as long as possible, and as an active supporter of SCAP, the Scottish Government welcomes this voluntary contribution to achieving Scotland’s climate change and resource use targets.”

Learn more about WRAP and the Love Your Clothes campaign.

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