Calls for action to curb fast fashion waste

Local organisations campaigning against fast fashion practices want more done in New Zealand.

It was a global problem and New Zealand was no exception, with at least half of the 380,000 tonnes of imported textiles each year estimated to end up in landfill.

Mindful Fashion chief executive Jacinta Fitzgerald would love to see regulation from the government to limit that waste.

She had been tracking progress overseas, where governments were starting to take notice of the scale of the problem.

In Australia the Seamless Clothing Stewardship Scheme recommended a 4 cents per garment levy to incentivise better design, foster circular business models, and expand clothing recycling.

Australia’s Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek – who recently said the leggings people wore while exercising to live longer would outlive them – had threatened to make the scheme compulsory if not enough businesses signed up.

Fitzgerald said New Zealand’s clothing and textile supply chain was “very complex system and very few stages of the supply chain happen here.”

Imposing levies on imported goods was one thing, but dealing with the waste was a whole other issue.

“We don’t have a lot of infrastructure left where we can manufacture textiles.

“So to actually recycle old clothes to make new textiles is something that we may not be able to do here.”

Meanwhile in Europe, French lawmakers recently passed a bill seeking to introduce penalties on ultra-fast fashion products, and the European Union had approved a ban on returned or unsold textiles.

Usedfully co-founder Bernadette Casey said one of the most important things that legislation was doing was attempting to define fast fashion.

“They’ll use an assessment of the clothes produced and the turnover and speed of new collections. Having that legal definition will create the bedrock on which to apply the charges.”

There were also other opportunities for the old textiles and their components, she said.

“While we don’t have the ability to turn textiles back into textiles, these are really valuable resources and so (for example) there’s a lot of cellulose used in the construction and the roading industries,” Casey said.

“Brands that operate in New Zealand create jobs and economic returns. They pay their taxes in New Zealand. But they’re competing in a race where they are severely disadvantaged because of the sheer push of these really cheap clothes coming in from overseas.”

The government had not indicated it was looking at introducing any laws to tackle fast fashion.

Environment Minister Penny Simonds did not respond to RNZ’s request for comment.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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