British government rejected calls on Tuesday from parliamentarians to introduce a new levy on clothing sales to help tackle labour abuses and environmental damage in the country’s fashion industry.
Britain, which buys more clothes per person than any other country in Europe, has seen a boom in “fast fashion” with a parliamentary committee hearing that some workers were paid as little as 3.50 pounds per hour – half the minimum wage.
Greenpeace said 73 percent of textile fibres used to produce more than 100 billion garments each year ended up in landfill or incinerators after they have been used.
Members of the Environmental Audit Committee recommended a raft of changes to reform what it said was an exploitative and unsustainable industry and accused ministers of being “out of step” with public opinion by refusing to act.
The committee had proposed a one pence charge on every item of clothing sold to raise investment for textile recycling.
“Ministers have failed to recognise that urgent action must be taken to change the fast fashion business model which produces cheap clothes that cost the earth,” said committee chairwoman Mary Creagh in a statement.
The government said it was working with the fashion industry to reduce waste and has already increased resources to ensure all British workers were paid at least the minimum wage, in its response to the committee’s report.
“We recognise how crucial it is for the environmental and social and impacts to be well managed, particularly in this era of fast fashion,” it wrote.