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Australian environment minister warns clothing industry 'must roll back fast fashion'

By Susan Zijp


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Sydney, Australia. Credits: Unsplash.

Tanya Plibersek is considering regulating the garment industry. The Australian environment minister spoke of a possible levy on the sector, which is responsible for between 4 and 8 percent of global CO2 emissions, as reported by ABC News.

Australia has a fast fashion problem. The average Australian buys 56 garments every year and, according to the Australian Fashion Council (AFC), more than 200,000 tonnes of clothes go to Australian landfills every year. Acknowledging that she is "part of the problem", the minister sees no alternative but for the Australian government to intervene.

Plibersek is planning to get the new European rules, called UPV - which encourage recycling and reuse - off the ground in Australia too, starting with new design standards and requiring fashion brands to contribute to the Seamless programme. The latter is an initiative Plibersek participated in last year, funded by the Australian government in partnership with the AFC.

The AFC estimates that the programme will raise about 36 million Australian dollars each year. If the sector is required to contribute, it could raise up to 60 million Australian dollars. The money will go towards garment collection, sorting, research, recycling projects and other work that can assist the industry's green efforts.

In Australia, fashion brands now pay a no-obligation, four cent contribution to the Seamless programme for every garment they make or import. Shoes, single-use protective clothing and accessories are currently excluded.

In Europe, the seamless programme is similar to the UPV declaration that went into effect in 2023, where the garment sector is held accountable for every garment they make, import and market.

It will become clear in July whether Plibersek's plans will be realised. The Australian minister's ideas fit the 'polluter pays' principle (Polluter Pays Principle or PPP in English). In an interview, she shared: "If it is the fashion industry that makes the profits, then it should be held accountable to do better for the environment."

This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.NL. Translation and edit by: Rachel Douglass.

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Fast fashion
Sustainable Fashion