EU Strategy for sustainable and circular textiles
In “A European Green Deal”
In March 2022 the European Commission presented an EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles. The strategy is part of the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan. It includes in particular actions under the new regulation on ecodesign requirements for sustainable products and the new directive empowering consumers for the green transition directive (see separate files).
The new Circular Economy Action Plan identified textiles as a key product value chain that requires urgent EU action due to its high use of resources and high impact on the environment. According to the European Environment Agency (EEA), textile consumption in Europe has the fourth highest impact on the environment, after food, housing and transport.
The strategy presents the Commission’s vision for the textile industry and lists a number of key actions the Commission intends to take on. By 2030, textiles on the EU market should be durable and recyclable, largely made of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and produced in an environmentally friendly way while respecting social rights. Fast fashion should be ‘out of fashion’ and re-use and repair services would be widely available. Textiles should be collected at the end of their lifetime and their incineration and landfilling reduced to a minimum thanks to innovative fibre-to-fibre recycling.
The strategy explains how new legislation should tie together to make textiles more sustainable.
The proposed new ecodesign regulation would lay down minimum requirements for all products on the internal market regarding circularity; empower the Commission to lay down rules on the green public procurement; introduce a mandatory digital passport; and an obligation for businesses to publicly disclose information on destruction of unsold products, while the Commission would be empowered to outright ban such practice.
In Parliament, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), with Alessandra Moretti (S&D, Italy) as rapporteur, is responsible for the file on the new ecodesign regulation (see separate file).
The proposed directive on empowering consumers for the green transition would also apply to textiles. The proposal is designed to enhancing consumer rights in making informed choices in order to play an active role in the transition to a climate-neutral society. It proposes new rules to provide consumers with information on products’ sustainability, in particular their durability and repairability, at the point of purchase. It also aims to ban false and misleading green claims (‘greenwashing’).
In Parliament, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, with Biljana Borzan (S&D, Croatia) as rapporteur, is responsible for the file on the empowering consumers directive (see separate file).
Further Commission proposals related to the textile strategy:
- the 'green claims directive', published on on 22 March 2023. The proposed directive would establish minimum requirements on the substantiation and communication of voluntary environmental claims and environmental labelling in business-to-consumer commercial practices (see separate file);
- a revision of the Waste Framework Directive (planned for the 2nd quarter 2023) would harmonise EU extended producer responsibility (EPR) for textiles, with the main objective to provide incentives for producers to ensure that products are designed in line with circularity principles;
- a legislative proposal on reducing the release of microplastics in the environment will include measures also on microplastics in textiles (planned for the 2nd quarter 2023);
- a revision of the Textile Labelling Regulation (planned for the 4th quarter 2023) would introduce mandatory disclosure of sustainability and circularity parameters on the textiles’ label;
- a revision of the EU Ecolabel criteria for textiles and footwear in 2024 would support its uptake among producers and help consumers choose eco-friendly textile products;
- a revision of the Regulation on the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH) would address the presence of hazardous substances used in textiles (planned for the 4th quarter 2023);
- the revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation will address shipments of problematic waste outside of EU (see separate file).
- European Commission, EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles, COM(2022)141
- European Commission, 2023 Commission work programme, 2022
- European Commission, A new Circular Economy Action Plan, COM(2020) 98
- European Environment Agency, Textiles in Europe's circular economy, Briefing, October 2019
Other relevant files in the European Parliament legislative train page
- European Parliament, legislative train, Ecodesign requirements for sustainable products
- European Parliament, legislative train, Empowering consumers for the green transition
- European Parliament, legislative train, EU textile labelling regulation
- European Parliament, legislative train, Substantiating green claims
- European Parliament, EPRS, Textiles and the environment, Briefing, May 2022
- European Parliament, EPRS, Environmental impact of the textile and clothing industry: What consumers need to know, Briefing, January 2019
- European Parliament, EPRS, Textile workers in developing countries and the European fashion industry: Towards sustainability?, Briefing, July 2020
Author: Anne Altmayer, Members' Research Service, email@example.com
Visit the European Parliament homepage on circular economy and climate change.