An influential group of MPs has called for a 1p tax on new clothes in a bid to tackle consumer waste within the fashion industry.
The penny tax, which would be levied on every new item of clothing sold by Britain’s retailers, has been proposed this morning by the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee to raise an extra £35m for better recycling methods.
Calls for the government to introduce the new tax, which would apply to retailers which make a turnover of more than £36m, come amid mounting concerns over the impact of consumer waste within the fashion industry.
According to the report, which comes on the final day of London Fashion Week, retailers in the UK create 1m tonnes of waste every year, marking a higher level than any other country in Europe.
"Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth," said Mary Creagh, the Labour MP who chairs the Environmental Audit Committee.
She added: "Our insatiable appetite for clothes comes with a huge social and environmental price tag: carbon emissions, water use, chemical and plastic pollution are all destroying our environment."
Concerns that the current fast-fashion business model has been “encouraging overconsumption and generating excessive waste” were also raised in the report, with consumers encouraged to regularly change their wardrobes as a result of "advertising, social media and a supply of cheap garments".
As well as urging retailers to take more responsibility for the environmental consequences of their fast-fashion clothes, the committee also called for schools to teach children sewing so they can mend outfits rather than purchase new ones.
Peter Andrews, head of sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: "It’s welcome that the committee has agreed with our calls for better government enforcement of labour rights in factories to support the work retailers are doing on this."
Andrews added: "Our members are increasing the use of sustainable materials, designing garments that are made to last, and encouraging customers to return unwanted clothes for reuse, so we can turn old t-shirts into new ones. Many of the clothes now on sale from leading retailers have lower environmental impacts."