The United Kingdom has rejected calls for a levy on apparel sales to tackle labour abuse and ecological damage due to fast fashion. A government panel had suggested a one pence charge on every apparel item sold to raise investment for recycling. The government said it is already working to reduce waste and had increased resources to ensure the minimum wage.

The environmental audit committee had suggested a more proactive approach to enforcing the national minimum wage to avoid exploitation of textile workers. Other recommendations included a ban on incinerating unsold stock or sending it to landfill, and mandatory environmental targets for fashion retailers with a turnover above £36 mn.

The government also rejected a suggestion that fashion companies be rewarded or penalised depending on the environmental impact of their products. Committee Chairwoman Mary Creagh said the government’s rejection of its suggestions demonstrate that it is content to tolerate practices that trash the environment and exploit workers despite having just committed to net zero emission targets, according to some reports.

The United Kingdom buys more clothes per person than any other country in Europe and Greenpeace says 73 per cent of textile fibres used to produce more than 100 bn garments each year end up in landfill or incinerators.