Fast fashion industries will be required to disclose the amount of unsold clothing they send to landfills and include a minimum amount of recyclable materials in merchandise.
The European Commission is aiming to end fast fashion by 2030 in an announcement introducing mandatory minimum use of recycled fibers and banning companies from sending unsold clothing and textile products to landfill.
As part of the further enlargement of the existing EU framework eco-design ruleswhich sets energy efficiency standards for consumer goods such as toasters and washing machines, companies operating in the bloc will be required to include a certain amount of recycled content in their products or limit the use of materials that make them difficult to recycle.
The EU also plans to require big fashion companies to disclose how much unsold they send to landfill – clothes thrown into landfills increase the risk of microplastics leaking into the environment – as well as to improve global working conditions in the garment industry.
“The products we use every day must last,” said Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission. “If the products break, we should be able to fix them.”
“We want sustainable products to become the norm,” he continued. “The clothes we wear should last more than three washes and should also be recyclable.” EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius added: “By 2030, textiles placed on the EU market should be sustainable and recyclable, made to a large extent from recycled fibres.”
fast mode has become increasingly widespread throughout the world; The business model of fast fashion industries relies on the cheap and fast production of poor quality clothing, which is quickly pumped into stores in order to meet the latest trends. This includes popular European brands such as Zara, H&M and Top Shop. These clothes are not made to last. The average European throw away 11 kg of clothes, shoes and other fabric items every yearyet, when thrown into landfills, textiles take hundreds of years to decompose.
In order to keep costs and commodity prices low, most mass production of garments takes place in developing countries in Asia and Latin America, often under poor working conditions. In 2019, the EU imported more than €80 billion worth of clothing, mainly from China, Bangladesh and Turkey. Overall, nearly three-quarters of clothing and home textiles consumed in the EU are imported from elsewhere.
Fast fashion production is also incredibly energy intensive. Textiles are the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after food, housing and transport, while the fast fashion industry accounts for nearly 20% of global wastewater, or around 93 billion cubic meters of textile dye, according to the United Nations Environment Program.
While the UN has introduced a voluntary mission statement called the United Nations Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Actionwhere fashion and textile companies pledge to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and tackle their role in climate change, the EU proposal is one of the largest multilateral rules to regulate and legislating fast fashion issues.
Part of the EU’s ‘circular economy’ plan in the Green Deal, the new eco-design rules will likely see mattresses and rugs be the first textile products to be regulated.
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