The European Parliament's Environment Committee has called for binding targets and measures addressing the entire lifecycle of textiles in recommendations on the EU Textiles Strategy adopted on Thursday. Its members say textile products sold in the EU should be more durable, easier to reuse, repair and recycle, consist to a great extent of recycled fibres, and be free of hazardous substances. They also underline that textiles should be produced in a manner that respects human, social and labour rights, the environment and animal welfare throughout the supply chain, the Parliament's press service reported after the vote.
The Environment Committee calls for the upcoming revision of the EU's Waste Framework Directive (WFD) to include specific separate targets for textile waste prevention, collection, reuse and recycling, as well as the phase-out of the landfilling of textiles. Its members also support explicitly banning the destruction of unsold and returned textile goods in the EU ecodesign rules.
The Environment Committee's recommendations take the form of an own-initiative report, which is expected to undergo final adoption in the Parliament's plenary before the summer. The report is not legally binding, but gives an indication of the Parliament’s thinking on potential future legislation related to textiles and textile waste. The committee's text was adopted with 68 votes in favour, none against and one abstention.
Action to tackle fast fashion
To tackle overproduction and the overconsumption of clothes and footwear, the committee also calls on the European Commission and the EU member states to adopt measures that put an end to "fast fashion”, starting with a clear definition of the term based on "high volumes of lower quality garments at low price levels”. Consumers should be better informed to help them make responsible and sustainable choices, including through the introduction of a "digital product passport” in the upcoming revision of Ecodesign Regulation, the press service reported.
Ecodesign requirements on all textile and footwear products should be adopted as a priority, according to the committee. Furthermore, its members call for ambitious science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the entire lifecycle of the textiles sector. They request the EU Commission and the member states to ensure that production processes become less energy- and water-intensive, avoid the use and release of harmful substances, and reduce material and consumption footprints. They also call for fair and ethical trade practices to be ensured through enforcing EU trade agreements.
"Consumers alone cannot reform the global textile sector"
"Consumers alone cannot reform the global textile sector through their purchasing habits. If we allow the market to self-regulate, we leave the doors open for a fast fashion model that exploits people and the planet’s resources", commented Delara Burkhard (S&D), the rapporteur for the report.
The German MEP calls for the EU to 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, such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, growing landfills in Ghana and Nepal, polluted water, and microplastics in our oceans, show what happens when this principle is not pursued. We have waited long enough - it is time to make a change!"