The European Union is proposing new rules that would hold fashion companies responsible for the entire life cycle of their clothing products, Reuters reported.
The initiative, introduced in July, aims to promote textile reuse and recycling, reduce waste and create local job opportunities. The EU, comprised of 27 European countries, focuses on enhancing economic cooperation and policy coordination among its members.
Under the EU’s proposed regulation, retailers would be required to pay a fee of about 12 euro cents for each garment sold within the EU, with higher rates for items that are more challenging to recycle. The amount companies pay will be linked to the environmental impact of their clothing.
The rules aim to help EU countries in separately collecting and managing textiles for recycling, which the European Commission expected to begin in 2025. The money companies pay will be used to improve how clothes are collected, sorted, reused and recycled, according to the Commission.
Dijana Lind, an ESG analyst at Union Investment, told Reuters that “the main problem that we are facing is overconsumption.”
The EU generates 12.6 million tons of textile waste annually, with clothing and footwear contributing 5.2 million tons, according to the Commission’s website. Currently, only 22% of used textiles are collected for reuse or recycling, while the rest are often burned or buried, the Commission added.
Although the EU has not set precise objectives regarding the amount of recycled material in clothing, it aims that by 2030, a significant portion of textile products sold within the EU should primarily consist of recycled fibers. The garments should have qualities such as durability, repairability and recyclability, Reuters reported.
In July, the Commission deemed fast fashion “highly unsustainable,” adding that the textile industry contributes substantially to climate change and environmental damage, according to Reuters.
As part of the initiative, the EU is also looking to prevent the illegal export of used clothing to countries ill-equipped to manage them properly. This involves distinguishing between waste and reusable textiles to prevent the mislabeling of waste as reusable items, the Commission said.