UK waste-reduction charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has announced a three-year commitment to reducing clothing waste through a new €3.6 million pilot project. Funded by EU LIFE, the European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP) aims to divert over 90,000 tonnes per year of clothing waste from landfill and incineration across Europe by March 2019.
WRAP will partner with sustainable fashion non-profit MADE-BY, the Danish Fashion Institute, London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), and Rijkswaterstaat — an executive agency that is part of Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment — for three years to realize the project.
“In the Netherlands, Rijkswaterstaat is working on the Dutch national program From Waste to Resource,” explained Arjan de Zeeuw, Director of Environment at Rijkswaterstaat. “This program will give a boost to the circular economy, recycling and resource efficiency in several supply chains. One of the priorities is textiles, which can set an example for other supply chains. The textiles supply chain is operating on a global scale; international cooperation will strengthen the activities of all stakeholders towards sustainability.”
“London’s participation in this project presents a hugely exciting opportunity for the capital to be recognized as a sustainable fashion hub with its thriving fashion industry; world-leading educational establishments for designers, stylists, fashion journalists and photographers, a huge uniformed workforce; and some of the most switched-on consumers in Europe,” said Wayne Hubbard, COO of LWARB. “LWARB is delighted to be involved to test and showcase what works, learn from others and then share our experience with other large European cities.”
11 countries — Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the UK — will participate initially and there are plans to expand to other European and Asian countries. The ECAP partner organizations will work with brands, retailers, manufacturers, reuse and recycling organizations, charities and consumers to:
- Design and specify products for longer life and closed-loop production;
- Ensure that less clothing goes to incineration and landfill;
- Encourage consumers to buy less clothing and use it for longer; and
- Improve innovation in resource-efficient design and service models to encourage business growth in the sector.
The creation of an online learning platform for designers and product developers is one of the project’s initiatives. VP and Development Director of the Danish Fashion Institute, Jonas Eder-Hansen, explained that the Institute will create the platform.
“Up to 80 percent of a garment’s environmental impact is decided in the design phase. Only few designers and product developers realise their potential to create sustainable change through their decision,” he said. “The results will build on [Danish Fashion Institute]’s long tradition for working with designers through its Fashion Source library of eco and innovative materials.”
ECAP builds on WRAP’s previous work in reducing clothing waste, including its Love Your Clothes campaign. WRAP’s research has indicated that UK consumers annually throw away clothing that is still worth at least £140 million.
“Finding more sustainable ways to work with textiles is an area set to deliver huge benefits — both economic and environmental,” said Dr. Liz Goodwin, CEO of WRAP. “To be leading on a project of this magnitude is something I am very excited about, and applying tried and tested approaches such as voluntary agreements and consumer campaigns across Europe will really take our expertise to the next level. I look forward to watching this initiative progress.”
ECAP was announced just one week after WRAP’s announcement of another three-year EU LIFE-funded project, Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery (CRM Recovery). The CRM Recovery project will investigate commercial streams and solutions to reduce electronic waste and the need for mining raw materials.