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Radical rise in use of more sustainable fibres by UK SCAP signatories

UK charity Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) recently published the final report of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020 (SCAP) as the culmination of eight years of collaborative action by sector leaders. The most impactful change by signatories was a radical rise in the use of more sustainable fibres, from close to zero in 2012 to over 100,000 tonnes in 2020.

In parallel, the progress report SCAP’s successor Textiles 2030 sets out the practical actions already under way in the successor agreement for the sector to halve greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

SCAP united fashion brands, retailers, charity retailers, textile recycling companies, academia, governments and other stakeholders to reduce the impact of clothing in the United Kingdom.

Between 2012 and 2020, this pioneering, industry-led action plan delivered effective environmental and economic outcomes. The final report shows that SCAP exceeded its carbon and water footprint targets, although it struggled to complete the waste element, according to a WRAP press release.

The target to reduce clothing to landfill or incineration by 15 per cent had not been met before the pandemic; the 4 per cent measured reduction relates to 2017.

Progress cannot be reported in the SCAP closing report due to a lack of recent waste data, but will be updated in 2022. However, the target is not expected to have been met in 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic on collections, reuse and recycling of unwanted clothing.

Improvement actions carried out by SCAP signatories each year have grown more than 10-fold through the agreement. Actions included switching to more sustainable fibres, low impact dyeing, introducing hire and repair services, collecting clothing for reuse, designing for longer life, and more efficient production.

Challenges still loom large for the textiles sector, including its contribution to global warming and water scarcity. One of the key issues to unlock carbon savings is creating a truly circular economy for textiles.

To do this, Textiles 2030 includes work streams on design for longevity and recyclability, reuse business models, and closed loop recycling of textile fibres.

Launched by WRAP in April 2021, Textiles 2030 is the world’s most ambitious programme for sustainability in clothing and textiles.

Over the next decade, Textiles 2030 will slash the environmental impact of UK clothing and home fabrics through practical interventions along the entire textiles chain.

With businesses responsible for over 60 per cent of UK clothing sales, many reuse and recycling businesses, government and knowledge partners committed to taking action through the WRAP-led voluntary agreement, there is the real potential for large scale change.

Ninety two signatories have committed to Textiles 2030 in just six months since April. Sixty two per cent of all clothing put on the UK market is represented by Textiles 2030 signatories who are working towards science-based sustainability targets to minimise their environmental impact.

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