The European Union has agreed a ban on the destruction of unsold clothing to reduce the amount of waste produced by the fashion and textiles industry, which currently accounts for a fourth of the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The quantity of new and unused textile products that are discarded annually in the EU is significant, escalating concerns regarding the waste of valuable resources and the release of harmful greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals into the environment. Rapid growth in online sales has contributed to the surplus of textile products that are discarded due to fast paced production and consumption cycles. As a result, the EU has introduced new legislation designed to ban the destruction of unsold or retained textile products, including clothing, footwear and accessories. This decision aligns with the EU’s commitment towards reducing waste and promoting greater reuse and recycling practices. Therefore, companies will be required to explore alternative methods for handling excess stock, such as donations, reselling and recycling.
The adoption of the proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation by the European Commission establishes a framework for setting ecodesign requirements for sustainable products. It will replace the existing 2009 directive, enlarging the scope to set environmental sustainability requirements for almost every kind of good placed onto the EU market. Products must be, “both energy and resource efficient,” and, “more durable, reliable, reusable, upgradable, reparable, recyclable and easier to maintain.”
EU competition ministers also moved to implement a system of digital product passports, setting out rules regarding transparency and prohibiting the destruction of certain unsold consumer goods, so that consumers are informed about the environmental impact of purchasing products.
While the agreement is in place (after negotiation with the European Parliament), medium-sized companies, with a maximum of 250 workers, will have a transition period of four years to comply and smaller businesses, with fewer than 50 employees, will be exempt.
Though EU member states are urged to implement this ban immediately, governments and the European Parliament will still need to agree on the proposed ecodesign regulations before it becomes law.
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