Green proposals put forward by the European Commission to encourage sustainability and combat the fast fashion movement stop short of specifically promoting natural fibers such as wool and cotton.
The proposals, released last week, include a strategy for sustainable and circular textiles, as well as updates to EU consumer rules presented last week aimed at boosting consumer knowledge about sustainability and the ability to product repair.
The rules would also ban greenwashing and misleading claims about a product’s sustainability.
Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Vera Jourova, said the European Commission wassupporting consumers who increasingly want to choose products that last longer and are repairable.
“We need to ensure that their engagement is not hindered by misleading information,” she said.
“We are giving them strong new tools to make informed choices and increase the sustainability of products and our economy with this proposal.”
Actions from the Sustainable and Circular Textiles Strategy include new design requirements for textiles, including mandatory minimums for the inclusion of recycled fibers, the creation of digital product passports based on circularity and environmental requirements, actions on microplastics, economic incentives to make products more sustainable and restrictions on textile waste.
To deal with fast fashion, the strategy also calls on companies to reduce the number of collections per year, to act to minimize their carbon and environmental footprint, and calls on Member States to adopt tax measures favorable to the reuse sector and of the repair.
The strategy aims for textile products placed on the EU market to be “long-lived and recyclable” by 2030, but does not specifically mention natural fibres, but rather emphasizes fibers recycled materials and reuse and repair services.
The details of the proposals follow a long campaign by Australian Wool Innovation regarding the EU’s product environmental footprint methodology.
As part of the Make The Label Count campaign, AWI and other stakeholders lobbied for microplastics to be considered when determining whether a garment earns a clothing sustainability label.
Speaking at the Senate Estimates this week, AWI CEO John Roberts said it “beyond comprehension” that a fiber such as wool should be rated so poorly under the current methodology.
“We managed to get the support of I think 27 MEPs who all raised their concerns in the European Parliament about this,” he said.
“We certainly got the attention that we didn’t get six months ago, if I can put it that way.”
The Sustainable and Circular Textiles Strategy reveals that a forthcoming European Commission initiative, due to be presented this year, will tackle the unintended release of microplastics into the environment through the washing of synthetic fabrics through related measures manufacturing processes, pre-washing in industrial manufacturing plants, labeling and promotion of innovative materials.
A summary report on the public consultation undertaken regarding the proposals points out that several NGOs and government stakeholders were “cautious about prioritizing or limiting any particular fiber type”, instead arguing for a choice of fibers that can be demonstrated by cradle-to-grave methods to be durable.
Stakeholders also told the Commission that they consider the reduction of emissions to be one of the most important policy objectives for greener production processes.
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The story European Commission’s Fast Fashion Crackdown: How Natural Fibers Matter first appeared on farm online.