The EU strategy for sustainable and circular addresses the production and consumption of textiles, whilst recognising the importance of the textiles sector. It implements the commitments of the European Green Deal, the new circular economy action plan and the industrial strategy.
Textiles are the fabric of everyday life – in clothes and furniture, medical and protective equipment, buildings and vehicles. However, urgent action is needed as their impact on the environment continues to grow. EU consumption of textiles has, on average, the fourth highest impact on the environment and climate change, after food, housing and mobility. It is also the third highest area of consumption for water and land use, and fifth highest for the use of primary raw materials and greenhouse gas emissions.
By looking at the entire lifecycle of textile products and proposing actions to change how we produce and consume textiles, the Strategy presents a new approach, addressing these issues in a harmonised manner.
With these proposals, the Commission is presenting the tools to move to a truly circular economy in the EU: decoupled from energy- and resource dependencies, more resilient to external shocks and respectful of nature and people’s health. The proposals build on the success of EU’s existing Ecodesign rules, which have brought remarkable reductions in EU’s energy consumption and significant savings to consumers. In 2021 alone, existing ecodesign requirements saved consumers €120 billion. The rules have also led to a 10% lower annual energy consumption by the products in scope. By 2030, the new framework can lead to 132 mtoe of primary energy savings, which corresponds roughly to 150 bcm of natural gas, almost equivalent to EU’s import of Russian gas.
Sustainable and circular textiles
The strategy aims to create a greener, more competitive sector that is more resistant to global shocks. The Commission’s 2030 Vision for Textiles is that
- all textile products placed on the EU market are durable, repairable and recyclable, to a great extent made of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances, produced in respect of social rights and the environment
- ”fast fashion is out of fashion” and consumers benefit longer from high quality affordable textiles
- profitable re-use and repair services widely available
- the textiles sector is competitive, resilient and innovative with producers taking responsibility for their products along the value chain with sufficient capacities for recycling and minimal incineration and landfilling
The Strategy lays out a forward-looking set of actions. The Commission will
- set design requirements for textiles to make them last longer, easier to repair and recycle
- introduce clearer information on textiles and a digital product passport
- empower consumers and tackle greenwashing by ensuring the accuracy of companies’ green claims
- stop overproduction and overconsumption, and discourage the destruction of unsold or returned textiles
- harmonise EU Extender Producer Responsibility rules for textiles and economic incentives to make products more sustainable
- address the unintentional release of microplastics from synthetic textiles
- address the challenges from the export of textile waste adopt an EU Toolbox against counterfeiting by 2023
- publish a transition pathway by the end of 2022 – an action plan for actors in the textiles ecosystem to successfully achieve the green and digital transitions and increase its resilience