Jul 6, 2021
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Government fails to tackle fast-fashion issues says report

Jul 6, 2021

The UK government is failing to tackle environmental and human rights abuses in the fast-fashion industry head on, a hard-hitting report said on Tuesday.

Photo: Pixabay

With claims that the fast fashion industry is the second largest user and polluter of water globally and one of the largest contributors to modern slavery, new research commissioned by eco- and socially-focused non-profit group Hubbub revealed that just 19 policies in five strategies related to fast-fashion have been to tackled to date.

This compares to 14 government strategies containing 689 policies to tackle obesity, research published by the University of Cambridge earlier this year showed.

Furthermore, the majority of the policies related to fast-fashion were proposed in a way “unlikely to lead to implementation”, the report noted. 

For example, only 5% of policies (that is, one policy) contained any details of a cost and/or budget. While only 32% of policies proposed “actively seek to address the issue of fast-fashion, rather than just increasing awareness”, the report claimed. 

“The policies were largely introduced in broad strategies aimed at tackling the waste issue rather than directly tackling fast-fashion”, it added. 

Of the policies that sought to directly tackle fast fashion, “they were aimed at providing voluntary guidance and standards or attempts to enable producers to make change, but no stronger incentives, regulations or legislation have been proposed to date”, it said. 

“Despite growing concerns of the environmental and human rights damage caused by the fast fashion industry, there has been a lack of progress made by UK governments”, it added. 

Trewin Restorick, CEO of Hubbub, said: “The huge environmental and social impact of the fashion industry is becoming ever more apparent.  If the government is serious about meeting climate targets and ensuring fairer working conditions, then it has to ensure that the industry operates to the highest environmental and social standards.  This research reveals a shocking absence of leadership resulting in a lack of impactful and systemic change within the fashion sector”. 

Report researcher Dolly Theis added: "The findings… on UK government fast fashion policy are shocking, particularly when compared to analysis I conducted recently on government obesity policy. 

“[The] stark difference in government policy and attention demonstrates that, despite both fast fashion and obesity being massive and important challenges we face today, the governments' response is not always proportional or sufficient”. 

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