UK sustainability charity WRAP has launched a 10-year programme to help the clothing and textile industry commit to reducing its environmental impact.

The ‘Textiles 2030: UK Sustainable Textiles Action Plan’ is designed to “slash the environmental impact of UK clothing and home fabrics through practical interventions along the entire textiles chain”.

A voluntary agreement, Textiles 2030 has secured commitment from more than 18 major brands and retailers, 26 re-use/recycling organisations and 21 affiliates. This includes companies such as ASOS, Boohoo, Dunelm, John Lewis, M&S, New Look, Next, Primark, Sainsbury’s, Ted Baker, Tesco and The Salvation Army.

“I’ve been impressed by the way business has committed to reducing the environmental impact of its products and striving for net zero,” commented Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP.

“They clearly see this as core to their business models and essential for building back better as they recover from the pandemic.

“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.”

As part of the programme, WRAP has unveiled the Textiles 2030 Roadmap which 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. It also shows what signatories must do to deliver the targets, with key outcomes by the end of 2022, 2025 and 2030.

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, explained WRAP.

The Textiles 2030 environmental targets are:

  • Cut carbon by 50%, sufficient to put the UK textiles sector on a path consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, 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%

The Roadmap’s ambitions for circular textiles, which partner signatories will join forces to achieve, include:

  • 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