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Environmental impact of the textile and clothing industry: What consumers need to know

17-01-2019

The amount of clothes bought in the EU per person has increased by 40 % in just a few decades, driven by a fall in prices and the increased speed with which fashion is delivered to consumers. Clothing accounts for between 2 % and 10 % of the environmental impact of EU consumption. This impact is often felt in third countries, as most production takes place abroad. The production of raw materials, spinning them into fibres, weaving fabrics and dyeing require enormous amounts of water and chemicals ...

The amount of clothes bought in the EU per person has increased by 40 % in just a few decades, driven by a fall in prices and the increased speed with which fashion is delivered to consumers. Clothing accounts for between 2 % and 10 % of the environmental impact of EU consumption. This impact is often felt in third countries, as most production takes place abroad. The production of raw materials, spinning them into fibres, weaving fabrics and dyeing require enormous amounts of water and chemicals, including pesticides for growing raw materials such as cotton. Consumer use also has a large environmental footprint due to the water, energy and chemicals used in washing, tumble drying and ironing, as well as to microplastics shed into the environment. Less than half of used clothes are collected for reuse or recycling when they are no longer needed, and only 1 % are recycled into new clothes, since technologies that would enable recycling clothes into virgin fibres are only starting to emerge. Various ways to address these issues have been proposed, including developing new business models for clothing rental, designing products in a way that would make re-use and recycling easier (circular fashion), convincing consumers to buy fewer clothes of better quality (slow fashion), and generally steering consumer behaviour towards choosing more sustainable options. In 2018, the EU adopted a circular economy package that will, at the insistence of the European Parliament, for the first time ensure that textiles are collected separately in all Member States, by 2025 at the latest. The European Parliament has for years advocated promoting the use of ecological and sustainable raw materials and the re-use and recycling of clothing.

Improving global value chains key for EU trade

13-06-2016

Global value chains, and the related trade in intermediate goods and services, dominate today's interconnected economy. Tragic events, such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in 2013, have shed new light on the operation of these chains. Pressure is mounting on the various stakeholders involved at both national and international levels to prevent and mitigate the risks of the adverse effects linked to their functioning. Although a number of promising initiatives have been launched ...

Global value chains, and the related trade in intermediate goods and services, dominate today's interconnected economy. Tragic events, such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in 2013, have shed new light on the operation of these chains. Pressure is mounting on the various stakeholders involved at both national and international levels to prevent and mitigate the risks of the adverse effects linked to their functioning. Although a number of promising initiatives have been launched and some improvements have been made, much remains to be done. Promotion of sustainability and responsible management of global value chains figure prominently on the agendas of organisations such as the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The EU also plays a part. One of the main objectives of the EU is to integrate sustainability, with its various economic, social and environmental dimensions, into all relevant internal policies and external action. Against this backdrop and building on its ongoing initiatives, existing policy frameworks and instruments, the EU is and has been encouraging efforts to promote sustainable value chains. How best to address this challenge is key to the EU's new trade and investment strategy 'Trade for all'. The new European Commission initiatives currently under development, such as the EU Garment Initiative and the EU Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct, and the Council conclusions of May 2016 on Responsible Global Value Chains are in line with this endeavour.

TTIP Textiles and Labelling - Study in Focus

16-11-2015

The study TTIP: Opportunities and Challenges in the Area of Textiles and Labelling looks at the textiles and clothing sector. Relatively high tariffs remain in textiles and clothing and the study considers the opportunities and challenges of reducing these as well as simplifying the complex rules of origin that have been used in the sector. It also analyses the important non-tariff barriers in the sector, such as those concerning labelling and consumer safety. This is a short overview of this ...

The study TTIP: Opportunities and Challenges in the Area of Textiles and Labelling looks at the textiles and clothing sector. Relatively high tariffs remain in textiles and clothing and the study considers the opportunities and challenges of reducing these as well as simplifying the complex rules of origin that have been used in the sector. It also analyses the important non-tariff barriers in the sector, such as those concerning labelling and consumer safety. This is a short overview of this study. Link to the original document: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2015/563440/IPOL_IDA(2015)563440_EN.pdf

TTIP: Challenges and Opportunities in the Area of Textiles and Labelling

31-08-2015

The paper, produced by Policy Department A for the IMCO committee, analyses opportunities and challenges of TTIP for the EU in textile and clothing (T&C). This area differs from other industrial sectors in that average tariff levels are relatively high and a number of tariff peaks still exist. It would not be difficult to negotiate the complete phase out of all tariff barriers and obtain gains for consumers and firms. A more challenging task will be to tackle the existing high level of non-tariff ...

The paper, produced by Policy Department A for the IMCO committee, analyses opportunities and challenges of TTIP for the EU in textile and clothing (T&C). This area differs from other industrial sectors in that average tariff levels are relatively high and a number of tariff peaks still exist. It would not be difficult to negotiate the complete phase out of all tariff barriers and obtain gains for consumers and firms. A more challenging task will be to tackle the existing high level of non-tariff barriers. To be able to exploit the potential gains from trade liberalization, the challenge for EU negotiators is to enter a regulatory co-operation game with the US while maintaining the high level of health and environment protection achieved in the EU.

TTIP Negotiations: Challenges and Opportunities for Europe - Compilation of 8 At a Glance Notes

09-06-2015

Compilation of 8 at-a-glance notes on 'TTIP: Opportunities and challenges', prepared by the Policy Department A for the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection cover 8 sectors: - services, - public procurement, - technical barriers to trade, including standards, - customs and trade facilitation, - consumer protection, - textiles and labelling, - motor vehicles and engineering, including machinery. The analyses done on the opportunities and challenges Europe faces with regard ...

Compilation of 8 at-a-glance notes on 'TTIP: Opportunities and challenges', prepared by the Policy Department A for the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection cover 8 sectors: - services, - public procurement, - technical barriers to trade, including standards, - customs and trade facilitation, - consumer protection, - textiles and labelling, - motor vehicles and engineering, including machinery. The analyses done on the opportunities and challenges Europe faces with regard to the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). They examine options of the TTIP from the point of view of EU offensive and defensive interests.

Bangladesh: human rights situation

06-03-2015

The human rights situation in Bangladesh has been continually worsening, and what makes it even more alarming is that the state is largely responsible for this. In its September 2014 session, the European Parliament adopted a very detailed resolution expressing its deep concern over human rights violations and working conditions in the country.

The human rights situation in Bangladesh has been continually worsening, and what makes it even more alarming is that the state is largely responsible for this. In its September 2014 session, the European Parliament adopted a very detailed resolution expressing its deep concern over human rights violations and working conditions in the country.

EU legislation on Organic Production and Labelling: Implementation Appraisal

13-11-2014

This is the first in a new series of 'Implementation Appraisals', produced by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), on the operation of existing EU legislation in practice. Each such briefing focuses on a specific EU law which is, or will shortly be, subject to an amending proposal from the European Commission, intended to update the current text. The series is based on the Commission’s intentions, as announced in its annual Work Programme (CWP). 'Implementation Appraisals' aim to provide ...

This is the first in a new series of 'Implementation Appraisals', produced by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), on the operation of existing EU legislation in practice. Each such briefing focuses on a specific EU law which is, or will shortly be, subject to an amending proposal from the European Commission, intended to update the current text. The series is based on the Commission’s intentions, as announced in its annual Work Programme (CWP). 'Implementation Appraisals' aim to provide a succinct overview of material publicly available on the implementation, application and effectiveness of an EU law to date - drawing on available in-puts from, inter alia, the EU institutions and advisory committees, national parliaments, and relevant external consultation and outreach exercises. They are provided to assist parliamentary committees in their consideration of the new Commission proposal, once tabled. PE 536.328 v02-00

Workers' conditions in the textile and clothing sector: just an Asian affair? Issues at stake after the Rana Plaza tragedy

15-08-2014

More than 70% of EU imports of textile and clothing come from Asia. Many Asian workers have to work in sweatshop conditions, but the issue appears in global media only when major fatal accidents occur, like that at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, in 2013. Long working hours, low wages, lack of regular contracts, and systemically hazardous conditions are often reported. Trade unions, when allowed, are unable to protect workers.

More than 70% of EU imports of textile and clothing come from Asia. Many Asian workers have to work in sweatshop conditions, but the issue appears in global media only when major fatal accidents occur, like that at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, in 2013. Long working hours, low wages, lack of regular contracts, and systemically hazardous conditions are often reported. Trade unions, when allowed, are unable to protect workers.

Sustainability in the global cotton value chain

07-03-2013

Recent safety-related accidents in garment factories in Bangladesh have once again turned public attention to the sustainability of the global cotton value chain. Sensitive issues relate to the usage of forced labour and child labour in some countries, disrespect for human and labour rights in the cotton production throughout the entire value chain and its impact on the environment caused by the widespread use of pesticides and its huge need of freshwater resources.

Recent safety-related accidents in garment factories in Bangladesh have once again turned public attention to the sustainability of the global cotton value chain. Sensitive issues relate to the usage of forced labour and child labour in some countries, disrespect for human and labour rights in the cotton production throughout the entire value chain and its impact on the environment caused by the widespread use of pesticides and its huge need of freshwater resources.

Perspectives of the Trade in textiles after the end of the quota system of the wto Agreement on Textiles and Clothing on 1 january 2005

05-01-2005

With the end of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing and the removal of all textiles and clothing quotas on 1 January 2005, the characteristics of global textile production patterns and trade flows will be substantially redesigned. This paper aims at evaluating the qualitative and quantitative impact of the removal of quotas by assessing the prospects for textile- and clothing-producing countries, as well as producers and consumers in the EU. The paper also takes account of linkages with other ...

With the end of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing and the removal of all textiles and clothing quotas on 1 January 2005, the characteristics of global textile production patterns and trade flows will be substantially redesigned. This paper aims at evaluating the qualitative and quantitative impact of the removal of quotas by assessing the prospects for textile- and clothing-producing countries, as well as producers and consumers in the EU. The paper also takes account of linkages with other factors and it covers the impacts on employment and development. Several policy recommendations follow based on this analysis.

Zunanji avtor

Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels

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