Europe targets fast fashion | detail detail

Sustainable products must become the norm, a digital passport will inform consumers of this. Fast fashion should be a thing of the past, according to the European Commission.

Recover and recycle

Almost all physical goods on the European market will need to become more environmentally friendly, circular and energy efficient throughout their life cycle. On Wednesday, the European Commission made proposals to realize these ambitions. All products will have a digital product passport, making it easier to repair or recycle them. The Commission also wants to take measures to prevent unsold products from being destroyed.

Textile is the first targeted sector. After food, housing and mobility, fashion has the fourth biggest impact on the environment and climate change. It is also the third consumer of water and land and the fifth consumer of primary raw materials. Therefore, by 2030, textile products on the European market should be sustainable and recyclable, be made of recycled fibers as much as possible, be free of hazardous substances and be produced with respect for social rights and the environment.

Closed loop

Fast fashion should go out of style, reuse and repair services should be widely available, the statement literally says. Producers must take responsibility for their products throughout the value chain, including when they become waste. The Commission invites manufacturers to limit the number of annual collections and asks Member States to put in place tax measures favorable to reuse and repair. There will also be measures against microplastics in textiles.

Greenwashing is fundamentally wrong, according to the Commission. Fashion brands that feature fleece made from recycled PET bottles, for example, are misleading the consumer. After all, it is better to keep PET bottles in a closed cycle and reuse them for packaging beverages. However, turning discarded textiles into fibers that can be used to make new clothes is sustainable.

Not more expensive

“It’s time to end the ‘take, make, break and throw’ model that is so harmful to our planet, our health and our economy. Today’s proposals will ensure that only the most sustainable products are sold in Europe,” said European Green Deal Vice President Frans Timmermans.

He denies that durable products will become more expensive for consumers: “On the contrary, consumers can save money if products last longer, or if we buy more second-hand clothes. Each European today throws away 11 kilograms of textiles per year, so there is room for improvement.”

To be clear, these are proposals that still need to be approved by the European Parliament and Member States. The aim is for the rules to come into force in 2024.

Mary I. Bruner