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MEPs say the fast fashion brand of inactivity in ethics is shocking



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Fashion retailers JD Sports, Sports Direct and Boohoo "fail to commit" to reducing their impact on the environment and the social situation, MEPs say.

Amazon, TK Maxx and Missguided were also described by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) as one of the "least involved" in sustainable fashion and labor market initiatives.

EAC said it was "shocking" when companies "did not take steps".

Boohoo said the report does not reflect its commitment to sustainability.

The findings are part of the EAC's survey on the sustainability of the fashion industry.

The demand was triggered by the popularity of "fast-paced … cheap, fast-moving clothing that supports buying."

Disposable fashion has become a focal point not only for the amount that ends up in the landfill but also because it can release toxic chemicals in production and plastic fibers when washed.

Last summer, the committee wrote 16 fashion vendors who asked what they were doing to reduce the environmental and social impact of the clothing and footwear they sell.

The specific questions included what brands make about the use of organic or sustainable cotton; limiting the discharge of hazardous chemicals and re-using or recycling unsold supplies.

The Interim Report marks brands as they are "involved" in their commitment to sustainable fashion trends and labor market initiatives.

"The most involved" were named Asos, Marks & Spencer Tesco, Primark and Burberry.

Everyone uses organic or sustainable cotton and old materials and encourages customers to return old clothing.

The "slightly committed" retailers were Next, Debenhams, Arcadia Group and Asda.

EAC said that each of them took "some steps" to address environmental sustainability issues.

Everyone, with the exception of Next, has a retirement appointment meeting, and everyone except Asda uses organic cotton in some apparel.

Kurt Geiger was also approached, but did not respond to requests for written evidence, EAC said.

"Re-acceptance of the commitment"

Traders have also been asked whether they are members of the ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) labor rights and living arrangements, and SCAP (Sustainable Clothing Action Plan) to reduce their carbon, water and waste tracks.

With the exception of Burberry, all other "mildly engaged" and "funniest" retailers participated in one or the other or both of these programs.

Of the six "least interested" retailers there was no member of one of these initiatives,

In his statement Boohoo said he wants to "re-assume his commitment to engaging in the ongoing debate on fashion sustainability.

"This initial report does not fully reflect policies and practices and the independent initiatives we have introduced or the scope of our sustained commitment to sustainability."

JD Sports said, "As an enterprise we are involved in a number of ethical initiatives that fall outside the narrow list set out in the Committee's report."

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He added that most of the group's sales come from third-party brands, including "two [Nike and Adidas] internationally recognized leaders in industry in terms of sustainability ".

"Sales of private brands are the rest of the group's sales, and an ongoing project is under way to explore ways to improve the durability of our manufactured clothing," he added.

Amazon refused to comment.

"Customers can choose"

EAC Chairman Mary Creagh said: "It is shocking to see that a group of large retailers has failed to take measures to promote environmental sustainability and the protection of its workers.

"By publishing this information, customers can choose whether to spend money with a company that does little to protect the environment or support proper wages for garment workers.

"We hope it motivates inefficient retailers to take responsibility for their workers and their impact on the environment."

The Committee concluded that the current business model of the British fashion industry is "clearly unsustainable, especially with the growing middle class population and rising levels of consumption around the world."

How do fashion brands do?

"Least employed": JD Sports, Sports Direct, Boohoo, Amazon, TK Maxx, Missguided

"Moderately engaged": Further, Debenhams, Arcadia Group, Asda.

"Most involved": Asos, Marks & Spencer Tesco, Primark and Burberry.

Kurt Geiger did not respond to EAC's requests

The Committee said it intends to publish its final report in the coming weeks, outlining the recommendations of government policies "Promoting a more transparent, fairer and more sustainable fashion system".

Francois Souchet of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation stated that the committee was right that "the current fashion model of the fashion industry can not function for a long time".

He said that everywhere in the world, one piece of clothing was packed or burned, while less than 1% of old clothing was used to make new clothes.

"We need a redesign for the fashion industry, so business models increase the use of clothing, clothing is made of safe and renewable materials, and old clothing is used to make new clothes."


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