Textile products should last longer and be easier to reuse, repair and recycle

Textile products should last longer and be easier to reuse, repair and recycle

MEPs call on the Commission and EU countries to end “fast fashion” and help consumers make more ethically responsible and sustainable choices.

On Thursday, Parliament adopted recommendations for the EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles, with 600 votes in favour, 17 against and 16 abstentions.

The text calls for textile products sold in the EU to be more durable, easier to reuse, repair and recycle. Their production should respect human, social and labour rights, the environment and animal welfare throughout the supply chain. MEPs also want EU and national measures to put an end to “fast fashion”.

Specific measures to be addressed in future EU legislation

Parliament says consumers should have more information to make sustainable choices, and calls for a ban on the destruction of unsold and returned textile goods in the upcoming revision of the ecodesign regulation. MEPs want clear rules to stop greenwashing by producers, through for example the ongoing legislative work related to empowering consumers in the green transition and regulating green claims.

MEPs also want the upcoming revision of the Waste Framework Directive to include specific separate targets for textile waste prevention, collection, reuse and recycling. They urge the Commission to launch the initiative to prevent and minimise the release of microplastics and microfibers into the environment, without further delay.

In a plenary statement on Wednesday, followed by a round of interventions from political groups, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola marked the 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1134 people. She recalled that this disaster was a wake-up call for the Western world, including the EU, which has a responsibility to “own up to the consequences of putting consumer preferences for abundance and affordability ahead of moderation and sustainability”.

Rapporteur Delara Burkhardt (S&D, DE) said: “Consumers alone cannot reform the global textile sector through their purchasing habits. If we allow the market to self-regulate, we leave the door open for a fast fashion model that exploits people and the planet’s resources. The EU must legally oblige manufacturers and large fashion companies to operate more sustainably. People and the planet are more important than the textile industry’s profits. The disasters that have occurred in the past, like the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, growing textile landfills in Ghana and Nepal, polluted water, and microplastics in our oceans, show what happens when we do not pursue this principle. We have waited long enough – it is time to make a change!”

The Commission presented the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles on 30 March 2022 to address the entire lifecycle of textile products and propose actions to change how we produce and consume textiles. It aims to implement the commitments of the European Green Deal, the new circular economy action plan and the industrial strategy for the textiles’ sector.

In adopting this report, Parliament is responding to citizens’ expectations to build a circular economy by promoting sustainable EU products and production, and to support the shift to a sustainable and resilient growth model, as expressed in Proposals 5(3), 5(9), 5(10), 5(11), 11(1) and 11(8) of the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe.


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