Fashion retail bosses have been asked to explain to MPs what measures they are taking to minimise the environmental and social impact of the goods they sell.
The chair of Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh, has written to the top 10 fashion retailers – Marks & Spencer, Primark, Next, Arcadia, Asda, TK Maxx and HomeSense, Tesco, JD Sports, Debenhams and Sports Direct – asking for replies by October 12.
The information supplied will be used to inform the committee’s inquiry into how the fashion industry, worth £28bn a year to the UK economy, can reduce its environmental impact.
Creagh said: “The way we design, produce and discard our clothes has a huge impact on our planet. Fashion and footwear retailers have a responsibility to minimise their environmental footprint and make sure the workers in their supply chains are paid a living wage. We want to hear what they are doing to make their industry more sustainable.”
She said clothing production contributes to climate change and that when washed it releases microplastic fibres, which end up in the sea. The committee is also concerned about how much clothing ends up in landfill and said some charities have complained that second-hand clothes are dumped in overseas markets.
Among the questions fashion retailers are being asked are whether they pay the living wage to garment workers, how they ensure child labour is not used in their supply chains, whether they incinerate unsold or returned stock and what steps they are taking to reduce the risk of microplastics contaminating the oceans.