The new EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles

The new EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles sets out the vision and concrete actions to ensure that by 2030 textile products placed on the European market are long-lived and recyclable, made as much as possible of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and produced in respect of social rights and the environment.

EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles

Textile usage is the fourth leading cause of pollution and climate change in Europe. Europeans, for example, discard an average of 11 kg of clothes every year. Every second, the equivalent of a truck's worth of fiber is buried or burnt throughout the world. Between 2000 and 2015, global textile output nearly doubled, while clothing and shoe consumption is anticipated to rise by 63% by 2030. However, this isn't the only issue. The manufacture of textile materials necessitates a lot of water and emits a lot of CO2.

It is also good to know that the textile and clothing industry is a pillar in the European economy that employs more than 1.5 million people. The sector includes nearly 160,000 companies, with a turnover of 162 billion euros for the year 2019. this sector would play an important role in the circular economy.

These problems are characterized by low rates of use, reuse, repair, and closed-loop fiber recycling.

Unfortunately, and most often, quality, durability and recyclability are not the priorities in the manufacture of clothing.

But on 30 March 2022, the European Commission adopted its strategy for a sustainable and circular textile industry, an initiative taken "for more sustainable, reusable, repairable, recyclable and energy-efficient products that will benefit consumers, the environment and the climate"

There are some key actions for sustainable and circular textiles taken in this strategy by the European Commission:


Extending the life of textile products is the most effective way to significantly reduce their impact on the climate and the environment.

Product design is crucial in achieving this goal. Consumers discard away clothing for a variety of reasons, including colorfastness, fabric strength, and the quality of fasteners and seams. Consumers will be able to get more use out of their garments if they are durable.

Introducing information requirements and a digital product passport

The Commission will also review the Textile Labeling Regulation, which requires textiles sold on the EU market to carry a label clearly indicating the fiber composition and the presence of any non-textile parts of animal origin.

The Commission proposes requiring disclosure of other types of information, such as sustainability and cyclical parameters, product sizes, and countries where the manufacturing process takes place as needed. As part of the above proposal, the Commission will also consider the possibility of introducing digital labels.

Mandatory requirements concerning green public procurement and Member State incentives

The Union will continue to advocate for more sustainable and circular textiles at international forums. In 2019, the European Union imported goods worth €80 billion. This makes it one of the world's major clothing importers.

Promoting a green and fair value chain across borders and continents helps ensure that textiles used inside and outside the European Union are made with social and environmental concerns in mind. Third-country companies that have a significant impact on the European textile value chain and make significant profits in the EU must fulfill this responsibility.

Companies in third countries that generate a lot of turnover in the European Union will have to comply with these obligations. The EU strategy on the rights of the child stresses the need to "zero tolerance of child labor" and calls on EU member states to ban child labor from their supply chains.

The Union will intensify its cooperation on issues of mutual interest related to the shipment of textile waste in the context of its environmental dialogues with other regions and countries, as well as in the context of the sustainability chapters of the Union's bilateral and interregional trade agreements, as appropriate, in line with the Union's overall objectives to increase the sustainability dimension of its trade policy. I cannot do it. I'm not able to do it.

Disclosure of the number of discarded products by large enterprises and their subsequent treatment, and measures on banning the destruction of unsold textiles

Unsold or returned merchandise, such as, is a tremendous waste. Bans on the disposal of unsold goods are being implemented.

Technology tools could reduce the high percentage of returns on clothing purchased online, encourage on-demand custom manufacturing and reduce the carbon footprint of e-commerce.

Fashion companies need to align their business with this strategy. We advise you to read it carefully and start thinking how to apply it, because in several years the proposed actions will become compulsory. The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles is available for download here.

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Tags:EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles, sustainable fashion, circular fashion, sustainable textiles

About the Author

Fanny L'huillier

Student in international trade at Lycée Frédéric Chopin (Nancy, France).

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