Regulating the Environmental and Social Impacts of the Fast Fashion Industry

Globally the fashion industry employs over 75 million people worldwide and turns over more than $2.5 trillion USD each year. Fashion production accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions, 20% of global industrial wastewater pollution with the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes burned or dumped in a landfill every second. The production of fast fashion also raises human rights concerns with the majority of textile workers being female and or migrants who are paid poverty wages and forced to work long hours while being exposed to dangerous chemicals and unsatisfactory working conditions in breach of international labour standards.

The social and environmental issues associated with this industry are being addressed through innovative supply chain regulation. Supply chain regulation is shifting responsibility to brands and retailers to show due diligence across their supply chains. Examples of supply chain regulation include:

  • Modern Slavery regulation targeting the working conditions of garment workers;
  • Textile Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes or Textile Product Stewardship schemes requiring fashion brands and retailers to play a role in recycling of textile waste and the introduction of eco-design standards;
  • Due Diligence regulation of the EU and OECD – requiring larger businesses to demonstrate upstream and downstream due diligence for both sustainability and labour issues across their supply chains.
  • Decarbonisation and Just Transition regulation – requiring a range of industries to reduce emissions across their operations.

In 2022, Professor Rowena Maguire along with Professor Alice Payne edited an open access journal special edition on Fashion Justice. This special edition explores both the social and environmental justice issues associated with the textile sector with leading scholars from across the globe.

Chief Investigators

Partner Investigators

Project funding/grants

Professor Maguire has led and collaborated on a number of interdisciplinary funded projects exploring ways to address the social and environmental risks of global textile supply chains including:

Project outputs


Policy submissions / Briefing papers

Academic publications

Cotton spools