UK waste recycling charity WRAP has officially launched its ten-year voluntary clothing and textile waste programme today (26 April), which aims to slash the environmental impact of UK clothing and home fabrics through practical interventions along the entire textiles chain.

First unveiled in November, Textiles 2030: UK Sustainable Textile Action Plan has secured commitment from more than 17 major brands and retailers, 26 re-use/recycling organisations and 20 affiliates, meaning it is supported by more than half the UK market at launch, with nearly 60% of clothing placed on the market (by sales volume) by UK retailers coming under the agreement.

Among those signed up are Asos, Boohoo, JD Sports, John Lewis, M&S, New Look, Next, Primark, Sainsbury’s, Ted Baker and Tesco.

“I’ve been impressed by the way business has committed to reducing the environmental impact of its products and striving for net zero. They clearly see this as core to their business models and essential for building back better as they recover from the pandemic,” says Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP. “We have been working with business to develop Textiles 2030 to drive forward the sector-wide change needed to redress how we use textiles. Our research shows that public demand is there for clothes made more sustainably, and not disposable fashion so the time is right for this transformation.

“Textiles 2030 will create a fashion sector fit for the future and lower the environmental impacts of other household textiles. This is just the beginning of a decade-long programme and we need more companies to show their commitment to their customers through Textiles 2030. With clothing having the fourth largest impact on the environment after transport, housing, and food we simply cannot afford for sustainability not to be the next big thing in fashion.”

Monique Leeuwenburgh, head of product technology at M&S clothing and home, adds: “At M&S, we source all our clothing with care and want to ensure nothing goes to waste. We’ve made huge progress over the last decade by working together with our suppliers and partners – from launching our clothes recycling scheme Shwopping to using 100% responsibly sourced cotton for our clothing. But we know there is always more to be done as we work towards becoming a net zero business, and that’s why we’re partnering with the wider industry through Textiles 2030 to create real change at scale.”

WRAP also unveils the Textiles 2030 Roadmap today, which will direct the actions under Textiles 2030. This sets out the water and carbon reduction targets, and the key milestones and activities necessary to introduce circular use of textile products and materials at scale.

The Textiles 2030 Roadmap shows what signatories must do to deliver the targets, with key outcomes by the end of 2022, 2025 and 2030. These actions will transform the UK’s make-use-dispose fashion culture into one where products are made sustainably, used longer and then re-used or recycled. The Target-Measure-Act approach will be used so that textiles businesses set tough targets, measure impact and track progress on both an individual business basis, and towards national targets and public reporting.

Textiles 2030 environmental targets:

  • Cut carbon by 50%, sufficient to put the UK textiles sector on a path consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change and achieving Net Zero by 2050 at the latest.
  • Reduce the aggregate water footprint of new products sold by 30%.

Roadmap ambitions for circular textiles, which partner signatories will join forces to achieve:

  • Design for circularity: agree good practice principles, including durability, recyclability, use of recycled content and minimising waste, and implement them as appropriate to their business model and customer base, to lower the impact of product placed on market in the UK.
  • Implement circular business models: pilot reuse business models as appropriate to their product ranges, share learning, and develop large-scale implementation to extend the lifetime of clothing in the UK – and decouple business growth from the use of virgin resources.
  • Close the loop on materials: set up partnerships to supply and use recycled fibres for new products, accelerating the commercialisation of fibre-to-fibre recycling in the UK.

Footprint modelling shows that these three actions towards circularity could deliver half of the climate target, WRAP says.

Textiles 2030 is also being supported by Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE, the Crossbench peer and Chancellor of the University of Nottingham who is an advocate for sustainable textiles.

“We urgently need to protect the planet from the damaging, unsustainable impact of the way we produce and consume clothing and textiles. Innovation, creativity and commitment, underpinned by collaboration is essential if we are to be successful,” she says. “By working together, businesses across the UK can take the critical steps needed to transform business practices in the sector for good and achieve our climate goals. With WRAP’s expertise in delivering initiatives such as Textiles 2030, and with the sector’s knowledge and expertise I am excited by the impact we can achieve together. I urge every fashion and textiles business in the UK to sign up to Textiles 2030.”

The agreement builds on the foundation of the SCAP 2020 (Sustainable Clothing Action Plan) voluntary agreement, which saw businesses respond to growing public demand for fashion with a softer environmental footprint, by adopting robust measurement and targeted action. SCAP was successful in helping signatories achieve and surpass the water and carbon targets.

The UK’s Textiles 2030 is the first national agreement in what will become a global network of new initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of clothing around the world.

WRAP, in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and supported by the Laudes Foundation, has developed a set of globally relevant targets and will launch the second commitment, in Denmark, in summer 2021. These initiatives will deliver the first readymade plans to achieve global circular economy targets on clothing by co-ordinated national action, WRAP says. The plans can be used by individual nations and tailored to suit their circumstances, whilst still directing action towards global targets.