Motion before amendment
Conference notes with concern that:
- The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
- The UK consumes more new clothing than any other European country at 26.7kg per capita, with individuals spending an average of £980 per year.
- Further environmental damage is caused by the fashion industry, including:
- 20% of water pollution resulting from the textile dying process, the second largest polluter of water globally.
- Microplastics from synthetic clothing contributing to 20-35% of primary source marine microplastics, with up to 700,000 fibres released in a single 6kg domestic wash.
- A water footprint of eight billion cubic metres, from clothing use in the UK.
- Fabric accounted for 800,000 tonnes of waste in the UK in 2016, a considerable increase from 700,000 tonnes in 2012.
- Overall consumption of garments since the 1980s has increased due to the ongoing decline in quality and longevity driven by the fast fashion business model.
- Landfill and incineration, often in less economically developed countries, is the endpoint of at least 64% of garments globally, only 1% of garments are recycled into new clothing.
- Modern slavery and unethical labour practices are notoriously linked to the fashion industry both globally and locally, including Shein employees being paid as little as three pence per garment, and forced labour of the Uyghur minority in China; there are also reports that garment workers in UK production centres such as Leicester are frequently paid below the minimum wage.
Conference believes that:
- The fast fashion business model is inherently dependent on exploitative environmental practices and human rights abuses.
- Everyone should have access to high quality clothing and informed consumer choice upon purchase.
- Everyone deserves fair wages and employment practices, no matter where they live in the world.
- Urgent action is needed to tackle the climate emergency, including a shift towards circular economies.
- Solutions to global crises require action on both the national and local level.
Conference calls for:
- The introduction of a 1p levy on new garments produced for sale on the UK market, with the proceeds ringfenced for the improvement and development of local recycling facilities and collection.
- A ban on the incineration or landfilling of used and new textiles which can be reused or recycled.
- The UK Government to incentivise the reuse and repurposing of garments by offering favourable VAT rates to resale shops and online platforms, rental services, and tailoring and repair services.
- Legislation obliging retailers to guarantee full traceability in their supply chains, ensuring ethically sourced materials, decent livelihoods, and safe working conditions, as well as the introduction of 'joint liability' for subcontractors in the fashion and fabric industry.
- The UK Government to effectively enforce current labour rights including compliance with minimum wage requirements.
- The cost of clothing to be explicitly considered in the calculation of benefit rates.
- Support for local clothes swapping initiatives, especially for school uniforms and workwear.
- Revision of the guidance on school uniform, emphasising affordability and limiting the number of unique and branded items.
- Further research into design techniques that limit synthetic fibre emissions, including investigation of the occupational health risks associated with synthetic fibres, with quick actions taken by the Health and Safety Executive based on findings.
- Government-led collaboration among fashion retailers, water firms, and washing machine manufacturers to tackle microfibre pollution, holding product-producing companies ultimately responsible.
- Extension of the proposed virgin plastics tax to textile products containing less than 50% recycled PET, to stimulate the UK market for recycled fibres.
- Measures encouraging the adoption of sustainable fibre production, with an emphasis on reducing the water footprint.
Applicability: Federal; except 1. (lines 45-48), and 6., 7. and 8. (lines 63-69), which are England only.
Mover: 7 minutes; summation of motion and mover and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes. For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see pages 110-111 of the agenda.
The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00 Monday 11 September. Those selected for debate will be printed in Conference Extra and Sunday’s Conference Daily. The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 on Saturday 23 September.