Government Rejects Fixing Fashion Report Recommendations
After 4 months of deliberation, Ministers have rejected EVERY proposal from the EAC 's Fixing Fashion Report to limit fashion’s impact on modern slavery and the environment.
If you’re just tuning in, in February 2019 the Environmental Audit Commission published a report called Fixing Fashion. It was chock-full of wisdom about why fashion is destroying the environment and violating human rights. It named and shamed a few companies (looking at you, Boohoo). And most importantly, it offered some legislative solutions about how to reduce the negative impacts of the fashion industry. Some of these changes included a penny tax on garments (to make retailers more responsible for the waste they produce), strengthening the modern slavery act and forcing certain companies to take on environmental targets.
How Did Ministers Respond to the Fixing Fashion Proposals?
Staggeringly ministers voted to reject every single proposal from the report. In spite of the overwhelming support for the Fixing Fashion proposals, none were passed in their full form. In a moment where we seem to finally be opening our eyes to the dire state of the environment, these rejections were like a huge slap in the face.
This report could have led us into a cleaner and more ethical future. Now the response is a clear step that we’re moving backwards. Last week, Missguided released their “£1 bikini,” in order “to celebrate 10 years of empowering women.” “Missguided” could not be a more appropriate description of the company in this instance. A garment produced and sold that cheaply cannot possibly have “empowered” the women who made it.
We were hoping that the government would criminalise this type of worker exploitation. Instead, they have chosen not to act. And the now infamous £1 bikini is sold out.
The Rejected Fixing Fashion Proposals
Here are a list of the Fixing Fashion (FF) report proposals and the Government’s justification as to why they rejected each one:
Fixing Fashion Report (FF): We need a penny tax on every garment as part of an extended producer responsibility scheme.
Govt: Hmmm, we’ll think about it.
Govt: We’ll get back to you by 2025.
FF: We need to ban incinerating or landfilling unsold stock that could be recycled.
Govt: Not a bad idea, but we’re not going to implement that.
FF: We need mandatory environmental targets for fashion retailers with a turnover above £36 million.
Govt: We think the industry can sort that out themselves with voluntary programs.
FF: The industry has to come together to make a plan for reaching a net zero emissions world.
Govt: Again, you guys can do that by yourselves.
FF: We need to reward companies that consider environmental impacts and punish those that don’t.
Govt: Look, we have enough problems dealing with single-use plastic in packaging. We can’t worry about clothes right now.
FF: We need to change the tax system so that it rewards repair, reuse and recycling.
FF: We should follow Sweden’s lead and reduce VAT on repair services.
Govt: What? That didn’t work in Sweden.
FF: We need to make sure the HMRC is stricter about enforcing National Minimum Wage.
Govt: They’re strict enough.
FF: We need to publicly require retailers to release a Modern Slavery statement, and penalise those that don’t comply with Modern Slavery requirements.
Govt: Modern Slavery? We’re not even going to touch that issue right now.
Hard To Justify
It’s shocking that ministers shot down every single suggestion from the Fixing Fashion Report. In some cases with as little justification as “No recommendations relating to modern slavery have been adopted.” The February report was clear that we are facing “an ecological, economic and social disaster.” Does the government fail to grasp the gravity of this? Or do they just not care?
What could possibly be going on in the minds of these politicians? We can certainly guess. In a parliament that publicly seems consumed only with Brexit, we have to wonder if politicians still have time to actually run our country. Theresa May’s proposed net-zero emissions target could have been a step in the right direction. Instead, it’s been publicly ridiculed as the final egotistical grasp of a lame-duck desperately reaching out for a legacy.
The question of climate change, of excessive waste, and of Modern Slavery all fall second to the question of whether we’re about to make a British-Exit from the EU. And in the process, we’re giving retailers the license they need to wreck the planet.
Whether or not Leave the EU or decide to stay in, the government should not forget the duty it has to its citizens. We’re so concerned with whether or not we’re about to violate a democratic vote. We seem to have overlooked the fact that we’re violating human rights, and we’re violating the planet. Dear Government, we’re over Brexit — we’re ready for Breforms.