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31 Mar 2022

EU Commission presents strategy for sustainable textiles to tackle fashion’s environmental impact & labour abuses

On 30 March 2022, the European Commission presented its strategy for sustainable and circular textiles to tackle the fashion industry's social and environmental impacts. The strategy outlines a vision whereby:

By 2030 textile products placed on the EU market are long-lived and recyclable, to a great extent made of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and produced in respect of social rights and the environment. Consumers benefit longer from high quality affordable textiles, fast fashion is out of fashion, and economically profitable re-use and repair services are widely available. In a competitive, resilient and innovative textiles sector, producers take responsibility for their products along the value chain, including when they become waste.

Civil society groups welcomed the proposal but said it “failed to capture the beating heart of the textile industry—the people who make our clothes” and raised concerns the focus on circular business models would not solve the exploitation of workers.

In February, labour and environmental organisations had urged the Commission to strengthen the strategy ahead of its adoption. For a joint shadow European Strategy for Sustainable Textile, Garments, Leather and Footwear published in 2020 by a coalition of 65 civil society organisations, see here.