The European Commission recently presented a new strategy for sustainable textiles as part of a broader effort to make the EU economy “decoupled from energy and resource dependencies, more resilient to external shocks and respectful of nature and people's health.”
According to the EC, the strategy sets forth concrete actions to “ensure that by 2030 textile products placed on the EU market are long-lived and recyclable, made as much as possible of recycled fibers, free of hazardous substances and produced in respect of social rights and the environment.” Specific measures include the following.
- new design requirements for textiles that set mandatory minimums for the inclusion of recycled fibers and make these items longer-lasting and easier to repair and recycle
- a ban on the destruction of unsold products under certain conditions, including unsold or returned textiles
- clearer information on textiles and a digital product passport based on mandatory information requirements on circularity and other key environmental aspects
- measures to address the unintentional release of microplastics from textiles that target manufacturing processes, pre-washing at industrial manufacturing plants, and labelling
- harmonized EU rules on extended producer responsibility for textiles along the value chain, including when they become waste
- economic incentives to make products more sustainable
- EU-level criteria to properly distinguish textile waste (e.g., to prevent it from being falsely labeled as secondhand goods) and efforts to increase transparency and sustainability in global trade in textile waste and used textiles
The Commission states under this strategy that the textile sector “will need to integrate circularity principles in its business models and minimize its environmental footprint.” The Commission plans to provide support for these efforts, including through a “transition pathway” that will “detail key actions to be taken and set targets and commitments.”
For more information on trade-related issues affecting textiles and apparel, please contact textile and apparel practice leader Elise Shibles at (415) 490-1403 or via email.
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