On 30 March 2022 the European Commission published the Sustainable and Circular Textiles Strategy, long awaited to lead the fashion industry towards sustainability by cleaning it from the dark sides.
Textile consumption in Europe has the fourth largest impact on the environment and climate change, after food, shelter and mobility.
The strategy implements the commitments made under the European Green Deal (#EUGreenDeal) and the new action plan for the circular economy. The EU thus begins to define end criteria for textile waste used not only as clothing, but also for household, cars, medical equipment, buildings and many other applications. The strategy aims to propose actions for the entire life cycle of textile products, supporting the ecosystem in the green and digital transitions, even in the design and consumption phases of fabrics. The Commission will work to enhance resource-efficient manufacturing processes, reuse, repair and other new circular economic models.
EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said the committee wanted fast fashion to go out of fashion: “By 2030, textiles placed on the EU market should be durable and recyclable, made to a large extent by recycled fibers”.
Re-use and repair
The strategy encourages Member States to support re-use and repair practices at national, regional and local levels and to adopt tax cuts and other tax measures to facilitate their adoption. The EU is proposing new rules that foresee a mandatory minimum use of recycled fibers by 2030 and a ban on the destruction of many unsold products.
The Commission wants to address the unintended release of microplastics from synthetic fabrics, considering measures to prevent and reduce it through product design, improvement of production processes, pre-washing in industrial production plants, labeling and promotion of materials innovative.
The Commission will work to limit the export of textile waste and increase transparency and sustainability in the trade in waste and textiles by promoting sustainable textiles globally. To avoid the mislabeling of waste as second-hand products, the strategy foresees the development of criteria to distinguish it correctly.
The strategy proposes the promotion of decent and fair working conditions, in particular with reference to gender equality, because most of the textile workers in the world are women (70% -80%). Through the Better Work program, the Commission continues to support partner countries to improve working conditions and comply with international labor standards.
The proposal also includes the introduction of a sustainability obligation for large companies to address negative impacts on human rights and the environment throughout their global value chain.
Consequences for producers and companies
The sector will have to commit to reducing the environmental footprint and introducing the principles of circularity. The Commission is working to support the transition process by preparing a roadmap to develop and streamline industrial technology research and innovation and by making financial support available (under Horizon Europe’s European Partnerships, the LIFE programme, and the Digital Europe Programme for the development of skilled experts to support the textiles industry in its digitalisation).
Give your feedback
The Commission invites all stakeholders and in particular SMEs, public authorities, social partners and research organizations to express their views on how best to achieve the transition while strengthening resilience. Anyone interested can provide feedback through an online survey and follow-up workshop.
Source: European Commission