Primark signals intention to join WRAP in war on fashion waste

EXCLUSIVE: High street retailer Primark plans to ramp up its ambitions to drive resource efficiency within the fashion sector, after revealing clear intentions to sign up to WRAP's Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) and the European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP) initiatives.

The announcement came during a lively discussion amongst the audience of a session on fashion waste at the edie Live exhibition yesterday (17 May). 

An audience Q&A within edie Live’s Resource Efficiency Theatre saw delegates calling for the help of high-profile brands to join WRAP in efforts to promote a closed-loop fashion industry.

Primark’s environmental sustainability controller for ethical trade, Charles Dickinson, then spoke out, revealing that the company fully intends to sign up to WRAP’s flagship waste SCAP and ECAP waste reduction programmes – although a specific date for sign-up has not been confirmed.

“I can answer your question,” Dickinson told a fellow audience member. “Primark will join SCAP and they will also join ECAP. We already work closely with Cotton Connect and we’re very much engaged with reducing water. We know that cotton is the biggest water user in the clothing chain. We’re all over it like a rash.”

Primark’s work to improve the sustainability of its clothing production has already been recognised through its sustainable cotton initiative – established as part of the Cotton Connect programme – which has seen female farmers record average profit increases of 211%, average yield increases of 12.6%, and a reduction of input costs by 5% over a two year timeframe.

With that cotton scheme picking up an award for best Environmental Initiative at edie’s Environment and Energy Awards on Monday (16 May), the company is now clearly looking to build on its CSR programme by agreeing to sign up to SCAP and ECAP.

Duel pledge

Already a part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), Primark will work alongside WRAP to acquire more sustainable fibre choices while also working to incorporate recycled materials over virgin options as part of the SCAP initiative. Since SCAP’s inception in 2013, the scheme has helped more than 50% of the UK retail market reduce supply chain water impacts by 12.5% per tonne of clothing.

Primark’s drive to promote resource efficiency will also extend across Europe after Dickinson confirmed the company’s intentions to sign up to the broader ECAP pledge. That initiative, which spreads across 11 European countries, aims to divert more than 90,000 tonnes of clothing away from landfill each year in Europe by 2019.

Speaking about WRAP’s progress on fashion waste in yesterday’s edie Live session, the group’s programme area manager Leigh Mapledoram said: “ECAP expands on the work of SCAP and is moving to deliver more action across Europe. We’ve established a large consortium of partners, and while there are some similarities with the UK programme, we hope that ECAP will promote broader action across the continent.

“My rallying cry would be for companies to learn more about the initiative and what it can offer.”

Matt Mace

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