The Scottish Government must take action on waste caused by fast fashion in the lead up to Cop26, Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has said.
A study published in 2018 in Nature found that the textiles industry contributes 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year – more than international flights and maritime shipping combined.
The study also found the equivalent of one bin lorry per second in clothing was dumped in landfill, with about 60% of clothes thrown away within a year of purchase.
Mr Cole-Hamilton has called on the Scottish Government to create a fast fashion commission, tasked with assessing Scotland’s role in textile-related waste and emissions.
He also pushed for new textile waste monitoring systems as well as kerbside collection of textiles.
“With Cop26 only weeks away, Scotland has a huge opportunity to set an example on the world stage,” he said.
“I want to offer new hope for the climate emergency with fresh ideas for every part of the crisis facing our planet.
“Scotland has a huge waste management problem, and it needs to be fixed. The way we buy things like clothes just to bin them later puts an enormous strain on our planet, and creates a huge volume of rubbish in the process.
“People are cottoning on to the damage fast fashion does to the world, but a commission would help people better understand what lies behind those offers, many of which really are too good to be true.
“We also need better ways to deal with post-consumer textiles, because the options for re-using and recycling are far too limited.
“When sensible policies are introduced, people adapt – we saw that with the plastic bag charge. But so far, the Scottish Government have completely failed to motivate change.”
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Scottish Government took the decision to shelf plans for circular economy legislation, aimed at improving waste management and reducing emissions, but Mr Cole-Hamilton has urged ministers to put the Bill back on the agenda.
“(The Scottish Government) parked their Circular Economy Bill, and even with a Green minister in charge, important policies like a latte levy won’t be seen for years to come.
“In the meantime, the waste pile just keeps on growing. The pandemic already turned back progress on things like reusable cups, and more delays will be hugely damaging.
“As Cop26 draws nearer, Scotland needs to take a good look at itself from a global perspective.
“Too often, poor countries suffer the consequences of our bad habits. It’s time to take responsibility.”
In the Programme for Government, outlined earlier this month, plans were announced to introduce the Bill “later in this parliamentary session”.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We are taking action to tackle our throwaway culture, including so-called ‘fast fashion’.
“We want Scotland to have an economy where materials remain in use for as long as possible, rather than being thrown away.
“To make that happen, we will be introducing an ambitious Circular Economy Bill and establishing an innovation fund to tackle textile pollution and throwaway culture.
“We are also introducing legislation to ban some of the most problematic single-use plastic products and plan to take further steps to consult on a charge on single-use disposable beverage cups.
“Taken together, these actions will help create a more circular economy, in which fewer materials are wasted.”
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