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Fast Fashion Under Fire: H&M and Boohoo face UK probe on sustainability


Fast Fashion Under Fire HM and Boohoo face UK probe on sustainability


Major fashion retailers H&M and Boohoo are being investigated by the UK Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) for their environmental impact, particularly on overproduction, textile waste, and lack of sustainable materials. This is a follow-up to the EAC's 2019 report, ‘Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability’. The committee is unsatisfied with the progress made by the industry since then.

EAC’s concerns

The committee is concerned about the lack of progress made by fashion brands since the 2019 report. The EAC is frustrated with the slow progress on its recommendations from the 2019 report, which the government mostly rejected. They will be questioning H&M and Boohoo on the concrete steps they've taken to reduce their environmental footprint. The UK reportedly has the fourth-highest carbon footprint from fashion among G20 nations, and the EAC is determined to address this. The concerns broadly are:

Overproduction: The EAC wants to know what steps these brands have taken to reduce excess production of clothing.

Textile waste: The Committee will question the retailers on their efforts to minimize textile waste generated during production and after garments reach consumers.

Sustainable materials: The EAC will probe how H&M and Boohoo are incorporating sustainable materials into their clothing lines.

While H&M has confirmed their attendance at the hearing, Boohoo has not yet commented. The 2019 inquiry also investigated other brands like M&S, Next, Primark, Debenhams, Missguided, and ASOS.

Possible outcomes

The EAC has a history of pushing for stricter regulations on the fashion industry. They might recommend an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme, which would hold brands financially responsible for their waste. The committee might also revisit proposals for producer responsibility charges to fund better clothing collection and recycling. A ban on incinerating or landfilling unsold stock could also be back on the table. The EAC is likely to push for stricter regulations. This could include:

Extended producer responsibility scheme: Brands would be financially responsible for waste collection and recycling.

Producer responsibility charge: A fee to pay for improved clothing collection and recycling.

Due diligence checks: Mandating checks throughout the supply chain to identify and eliminate labor abuses.

Bans on iIncineration or landfilling: Unsold stock could not be simply trashed.

The fashion industry has a voluntary agreement called the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, which aims to reduce environmental impact. However, the EAC seems unsatisfied with its effectiveness. This probe highlights the growing pressure on the fashion industry to become more sustainable. The outcome could have significant implications for how these companies operate in the future.


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