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EU Commission Roadmap on a sustainable textiles strategy

EU Commission Roadmap on a sustainable textiles strategy

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The EU Commission released a roadmap on a sustainable textiles strategy. The initiative is more than timely. The textile industry is one of the biggest polluters and it is important to have a good regulation, which leads to safe and clearn circular economy in place. The roadmap for te EU strategy for sustainable textiles was open to a public consultation and HEJSupport submitted comments. Please read the short version below, or download the long version.

HEJSupport welcomes the EU strategy for sustainable textiles Roadmap’ and the EU Commission’s initiative to address the impacts of textiles. To succeed, the Textile Strategy should be based on the principles of a safe circular economy that eliminates toxic chemicals in the materials cycle, ensures less extraction of raw materials and increases the use of materials already in circulation in the most efficient way. Circular material flows can only be safe if they are free from hazardous chemicals or if hazardous chemicals that cannot be phased out are strictly regulated.

We agree that being among the most polluting industries, textile industry has to become sustainable to minimize resource use and pollution, improve the safety of workers, eliminate sexual abuse, and ensure the right of consumers to make an informed choice. The Textile Strategy should recognise that the future of sustainable textiles largely depends on its ability to reduce the use of resources, such as land, water and oil, ensure reuse and recycle of products to minimize waste. In addition, the it should focus on other aspects, including protection of the environment and human health, occupational safety, gender equity and women’s empowerment, as well as meeting the demand of consumers for eco-friendly textile products. In addition, the Textile Strategy should include measures to raise the capacity and awareness of industry, politics, and civil society in low- and middle-income production countries, to tackle problems at source.

Increasing consumer awareness
More attention should be paid on the importance of increasing consumers’ awareness of consumerism and the associated environmental and health risk. For consumers to make informed decisions regarding their clothing, they must be aware of the issue at hand. Awareness involves not only having the information, but also ensuring it is easily understood and accessible by all.

Make consumers a driving force for sustainability
Information on toxic chemicals and other environmental impact of clothing and textiles should become a mandatory reporting requirement for companies and should be made available to consumers. Product sustainability claims should be oriented on the proof of action to reduce negative environmental and social impact throughout the supply chain and should not be limited to commitments and plans only. Information on product sustainability claims should be publicly accessible and regularly updated. They should be reliable, traceable, backed by science and CSOs, verified by a third party, be accessible and transparent. The presented ideas are built on our recent report “Sustainable Fashion? How companies provide sustainability information to consumers”, and related work that we conducted in the last years.

Circularity
Manufacturers and brands should be responsible for ultimate disposal and therefore should be required to make products environmentally sound. Safe circularity requires all materials to be free from hazardous chemicals and ready for reuse and safe recycling. All businesses along the supply chain should know and share information about the materials, ingredients and harmful chemicals being used in the products they manufacture, use and sell. The Strategy should include the phase out of harmful chemicals from textile products and processes, and use safe alternatives, including non-chemical ones.

To avoid further contamination of the textile supply chain, globally agreed requirements for transparency, traceability, and accessibility of information on harmful chemicals in textile products should be encouraged by the Textile Strategy to contribute to the elimination of such substances in products and related material flows. Textile supply chains are multi-national, and the spread of harmful chemicals in them is hard to address until harmonized global actions are adopted. The Textile Strategy could play the leading role in developing global information requirements to address this issue.

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Written by Alexandra Caterbow

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