In Wednesday's post, I talked about the huge potential for ethical success in ECAP–a newly created cross-Europe initative to build a more sustainable textile industry. But this isn't a stand-alone idea. The plan is built on strong foundations. The UK's SCAP (Sustainable Clothing Action Plan) has been in operation for two years, aiming to make big reductions in water and carbon impact across the sector by 2020. At WRAP's annual convention this week, it became clear that action has been taken with a vengeance.
In just two years retailers, brands and organisations from across the clothing supply chain have reduced water impacts by a significant 12.5% per tonne of clothing, against a 15% reduction target by 2020. They are also making encouraging progress on a cut to carbon impacts, achieving a 3.5% reduction per tonne of clothing against a 15% reduction target. Did I say encouraging? It's hugely impressive!
Reaching the 2020 targets would make a huge dent in the UK's carbon deficit and water use figures. There could be an annual carbon saving equivalent to removing 250,000 cars from the road, a water saving equivalent to 170,000 Olympic sized swimming pools and 16,000 tonnes less waste created in the first place.
In order to meet the SCAP 2020 targets, signatories (which make up over half of UK high street brands including, most recently, George at Asda) must focus on five main areas. They should increase the use of lower impact fibres; build product durability; help consumers care for clothing; guide those customers towards reducing waste to landfill (through WRAP’s consumer campaign Love Your Clothes) and work with supply chains to reduce waste. Like the recently announced ECAP, it's an ambitious plan with ambitious targets. So it's gratifying to see so much progress in such a short space of time.
It's important to note that engagement with customers is a vital part of the plan. After all, you can make all the changes to the supply chain that you like, but if the end user is still binning rather than recycling, all that hard work is for nothing. The Love Your Clothes campaign is a key component of the strategy. John Lewis uses LYC literature as part of its Learning Guide, helping Partners to pass on durability messages on the shop floor. Love Your Clothes recently sponsored Brighton Fashion Week, and Clothes Aid supports the campaign on its collection bags which can be found across the country.
Marcus Gover, Director at WRAP, said:
“SCAP signatories have made great progress against the targets to date, particularly water. This is a positive indication of what can be achieved and we must capitalise on the momentum we’ve built."Our View: these results are very good news and show how engagement with an idea across business, government and charities can make a huge difference in a short space of time. With five years to go, who knows what could be achieved? All of a sudden, ECAP's ambitious targets don't seem at all unachievable!