Eunomia was commissioned by Changing Markets and the European Environmental Bureau to conduct a study on the role of extended producer responsibility (EPR) and supporting policy measures in driving a circular economy for textiles in Europe.
Reducing the environmental impact of textiles is critical – textile consumption in Europe had on average the fourth highest impact on the environment and climate change from a global life cycle perspective in 2020, after food, housing and mobility. The EU’s forthcoming Textiles Strategy will need to be ambitious to tackle the significant greenhouse gas impacts of textile consumption if it is to contribute to the EU’s target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
This report explores the use of EPR, which sees producers cover the costs of dealing with textiles at their end of life, as a mechanism through which to drive circularity in the textiles market. The report recommends the implementation of EPR alongside supporting measures that incentivise eco-design.
The priority supporting measures are:
- Banning the use of hazardous chemicals and materials in clothing and textile products;
- Implementing minimum eco-design requirements for stress resistance and lifetime of products and components;
- Implementing minimum eco-design requirements for design practices per product category that allow disassembly for replacement and repair, or for recycling; and
- Implementing minimum repairability and modularity requirements.
The effectiveness of EPR should be supported through actions at the EU level, including:
- Setting performance targets for the collection and management of used and waste textiles, including repair, collection, preparation for reuse, and recycling (with increasing proportions of closed-loop recycling);
- Establishing an EU-level definition for obligated Producers;
- Establishing an EU-level classification for when textiles become waste;
- Establishing EU-level classifications for granularity of fee structure and associated reporting obligations; and
- Establishing EU-level criteria for eco-modulation and associated reporting obligations.
Other measures that should be considered include the implementation of recycled content targets in textiles, a VAT reduction on repair, limits on microplastics release and establishing a data reporting and verification for material flows throughout the value chain.
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