WAKEFIELD – As an apparent global push to include extended producer responsibility (EPR) frameworks in legislation gathers pace, podcast host David Styles catches up with Claire Kneller, managing director of WRAP Asia Pacific, to discuss the Australian Government’s approach.
Kneller joins the latest episode of Ecotextile Talks as a representative of the consortium behind Seamless, an initiative aiming to convince fashion brands and retailers to voluntarily contribute four cents per garment to fund textile circularity programmes and avoid a mandatory levy being imposed by central government.
“Textiles is on the minister's list. It has been for a while,” Kneller explains. “Perhaps unsurprisingly, the industry was not taking enough action. There are things happening in the industry, on an individual brand and retailer level, but by no stretch of the imagination is it enough activity.”
It was this perceived stasis that led Australia’s environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, to put the nation’s fashion companies on notice: they have 12 months to act or risk much harsher measures being imposed legally.
Success for the scheme, Kneller believes, would be 60 per cent of the industry signing up to contribute by June 2024.
“That's actually not that many companies,” she notes. “That's probably between 15 and 20 businesses, depending on which ones you get. So it's not a huge number, but the market in Australia is extremely consolidated at the top end.”
While WRAP Asia Pacific’s managing director is optimistic this level of uptake can be achieved, she issues industry with the cautionary tale that failing to do so may result in a higher contribution than the four cents per garment being proposed in this preliminary voluntary phase.
“Industry has the opportunity for it to continue as an industry led scheme. Once it becomes a co-regulatory scheme, it's quite a different setup… What currently is drafted as a four cents per garment levy might be 40 cents per garment under a regulatory scheme. Now I'm not saying it will be, but it could be because it really is out of industry's hands.”