More than 50 retailers, suppliers, charities and recyclers are backing a new sustainability drive designed to cut the environment impact of clothing throughout its life cycle.

Led by the UK government's Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) is being supported by Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Next and fashion designer Stella McCartney, with the signatories representing 40% of the UK clothing market.

SCAP 2020 Commitment targets revealed by WRAP include 15% reductions in carbon, water and in the amount of waste sent to landfill, as well as a 3.5% cut in waste arising per tonne of clothing by 2020.

WRAP said that, if the targets were met, the carbon savings would equate to taking 250,000 cars off the roads, the water saving would be equivalent to 170,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, and there would be 16,000 tonnes less waste created in the first place.

SCAP 2020 has identified three key action areas: the use of lower-impact fibres, the extension of the life of clothing, and an increase in re-use and recycling.

The campaign includes the SCAP Footprint Calculator, which enables a brand or retailer to quantify the carbon, water and waste footprints of its entire garment portfolio.

And a consumer campaign, Love Your Clothes, is being launched with the support of the SCAP 2020 Commitment signatories and supporters, designed to encourage consumers to think about how they buy, use and discard their clothing.

“It cannot be right that millions of pounds-worth of unwanted clothing ends up in landfill each year,” said Dan Rogerson, Environment Minister.

“I welcome these targets to help encourage us all to think more about how we can re-use products.”