Plans to reduce waste have been unveiled on Global Recycling Day, including proposals for new measures that aim to ramp up action on fast fashion and a new recycling fund for Scottish local authorities.
These plans form part of a new Waste Prevention Programme for England which sets out how the Government and industry can take action across seven key sectors – construction, textiles, furniture, electrical and electronics products, road vehicles, packaging, plastics and single-use items, and food – to minimise waste and work towards a more resource-efficient economy.
The programme includes steps to use resources more efficiently, design and manufacture products for optimum life and repair and reuse more items.
Building on the Resources & Waste Strategy, the Government will consult stakeholders by the end of 2022 on options for textiles, such as an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme which would seek ensure the industry contributes to the costs of recycling, supported by measures to encourage better design and labelling.
The fashion industry is estimated to account for 4% of annual global carbon emissions, while textiles production leads to greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the emissions of France, Germany and the UK.
Buying clothing has risen by almost 20% between 2012 and 2016, and around 921,000 tonnes of used textiles are disposed of in household waste each year.
According to the government, a producer responsibility scheme for the textiles industry could boost reuse, better collections and recycling, drive the use of sustainable fibres, and support sustainable businesses models such as rental schemes.
Progress has been made by the textiles industry however, led by the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, a voluntary agreement coordinated by WRAP.
Signatories, which include M&S, ASOS and Next, collectively reduced their water and carbon footprint per tonne of clothing by 19.5% and 15.9% respectively between 2012 and 2019.
The Government aims to galvanise ambitious industry action through a new voluntary agreement – Textiles 2030 – for the next 10 years, which will aim to reduce the environmental footprint of the textiles sector through science-based targets.
Alongside this, using powers sought in the Environment Bill, the Government will be able to set minimum standards for clothing on durability and recycled content, and explore ways to improve labelling and consumer information of clothing.
Meanwhile, £30 million has been allocated by UK Research and Innovation to establish five new research centres that will develop UK-based circular supply chains, one of which will focus on circular textiles technology.
The announcement forms part of a new wider consultation on a revised Waste Prevention Programme for England, which seeks views on how the government can use new powers in the Environment Bill to set eco-design standards for sectors identified to have a high environmental impact, such as construction and furniture.
These powers could be used to set requirements on manufacturers, for instance, to provide spare parts, to set a minimum level of recycled content, or to ensure products are designed for disassembly, repair and long life, rather than disposal.
More information about this consultation and how to take part is available on the DEFRA website.
Over in Scotland, the Scottish Government launched a new £70 million Recycling Improvement Fund, which opens next week for local authorities.
The Fund will give local authorities the opportunity to take forward projects that increase both the quality and quantity of recycling whilst delivering wider environmental benefits.
This could include promoting waste prevention or reuse, improving the consistency of collections, collecting problematic materials such as electrical items, improving sorting and treatment infrastructure, or introducing new low-carbon technologies.
Zero Waste Scotland will be responsible for day to day administration of the Fund, including managing applications, assessments and contracting.
The first phase of Expressions of Interest will open during the week commencing 22nd of March.
More information about the Fund is available on the Zero Waste Scotland website.