Members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee have adopted recommendations to promote circular, sustainable, and socially just production of textiles in the EU. The recommendations aim to put an end to the fast fashion industry, characterised by high volumes of lower quality garments at low prices.
Tougher rules are called for to ensure that textile products sold in the EU are durable, easy to reuse, repair and recycle, made of recycled fibres, and free of hazardous substances. The Committee emphasised that textiles should be produced with respect for human, social and labour rights, the environment, and animal welfare throughout their supply chain.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the entire lifecycle of the textiles sector, MEPs requested ambitious science-based targets. They called for production processes to become less energy- and water-intensive, avoid the use and release of harmful substances, and reduce material and consumption footprints. Ecodesign requirements for all textile and footwear products should be adopted as a priority.
The Waste Framework Directive should be revised to include specific targets for textile waste prevention, collection, reuse and recycling, as well as the phase-out of landfilling textiles. Other recommendations include an explicit ban on the destruction of unsold and returned textile goods, putting an end to greenwashing practices, ensuring fair and ethical trade practices, and minimising the release of microplastics and microfibers into the environment.
The recommendations include a clear definition of fast fashion, better informing consumers to make responsible choices, and introducing a digital product passport to help track the environmental impact of textiles. The MEPs urged the Commission and EU countries to adopt measures that reduce the overconsumption of clothes and footwear.
The report was adopted with 68 votes in favour, none against, and one abstention. The recommendations are expected to be adopted in plenary before the summer. The Committee’s recommendations aim to address the negative environmental and social impacts of the fast fashion industry, which has been associated with pollution, water depletion, and exploitation of workers in developing countries.
The European textile industry is a significant contributor to the EU’s economy, providing over 1.5 million jobs and generating a turnover of more than €166 billion. However, the industry is also responsible for significant environmental and social challenges. The EU imports around 30% of its textiles from outside the bloc, with the majority coming from developing countries where working conditions and environmental standards are often lower.
The EU has already taken steps to promote sustainable fashion, including adopting the Circular Economy Action Plan and the EU Strategy for Textiles. The Committee’s recommendations build on these initiatives and aim to accelerate the transition to a more circular and sustainable fashion industry. If adopted, the recommendations will have a significant impact on the fashion industry and will help to promote sustainable and socially responsible production practices.