Ministers urged to take action on waste caused by fast fashion

There are calls for a 'fast fashion commission' to be established ahead of the COP26 climate summit.

Ministers urged to take action on waste caused by fast fashion lechatnoir via iStock
A study found the textiles industry contributes 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.

Ministers have been urged to take action on waste caused by fast fashion in the lead up to COP26 by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

A study published in 2018 in Nature found that the textiles industry contributes 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year – more than international flights and maritime shipping combined.

The study also found the equivalent of one bin lorry per second in clothing was dumped in landfill, with about 60% of clothes thrown away within a year of purchase.

Cole-Hamilton has called on the Scottish Government to create a fast fashion commission, tasked with assessing Scotland’s role in textile-related waste and emissions.

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He also pushed for new textile waste monitoring systems as well as kerbside collection of textiles.

“With COP26 only weeks away, Scotland has a huge opportunity to set an example on the world stage,” he said.

“I want to offer new hope for the climate emergency with fresh ideas for every part of the crisis facing our planet.

“Scotland has a huge waste management problem, and it needs to be fixed. The way we buy things like clothes just to bin them later puts an enormous strain on our planet, and creates a huge volume of rubbish in the process.

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“People are cottoning on to the damage fast fashion does to the world, but a commission would help people better understand what lies behind those offers, many of which really are too good to be true.

“We also need better ways to deal with post-consumer textiles, because the options for re-using and recycling are far too limited.

“When sensible policies are introduced, people adapt – we saw that with the plastic bag charge. But so far, the Scottish Government have completely failed to motivate change.”

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Scottish Government took the decision to shelf plans for circular economy legislation, aimed at improving waste management and reducing emissions, but Cole-Hamilton has urged ministers to put the Bill back on the agenda.

“(The Scottish Government) parked their Circular Economy Bill, and even with a Green minister in charge, important policies like a latte levy won’t be seen for years to come,” he said.

“In the meantime, the waste pile just keeps on growing. The pandemic already turned back progress on things like reusable cups, and more delays will be hugely damaging.

“As COP26 draws nearer, Scotland needs to take a good look at itself from a global perspective.

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“Too often, poor countries suffer the consequences of our bad habits. It’s time to take responsibility.”

In the Programme for Government, outlined earlier this month, plans were announced to introduce the Bill “later in this parliamentary session”.