The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, responsible for over 10% of global GHG emissions.

In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of the textiles industry, leading brands (Adidas, Bestseller, C&A, H&M Group, Inditex and VF Corp.) have come together with the Policy Hub – Circularity for Apparel & Footwear and Eunomia Research & Consulting, to research and publish a set of principles for the most effective waste management system to tackle the pollution and enable a smooth transition to a circular economy for textiles in the EU.

Textiles have some of the most significant environmental impacts in Europe after food, housing, and transport . Key to reducing these impacts will be enabling circular use and end-of-life solutions, reducing the vast quantities of disposed, landfilled or incinerated textiles.
Of particular importance is how waste management schemes will be operationalised and harmonised throughout the EU Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). This is a fundamental component of textile waste management, applying the ‘polluter pays’ principle whereby the producers of goods have a responsibility to fund their end-of-life management, helping to close the loop on products and materials.

A new industry-funded report produced by circular economy specialists Eunomia Research & Consulting, looks specifically at the role of EPR in this transition. The publication draws on expertise from a variety of stakeholders across the textile value chain.
The authors have considered how the design of EPR could deliver the greatest benefits in the most efficient way. Key recommendations include:

1. Creating a consistent definition of the “obligated producer” and providing better guidance so industry actors will more easily understand their responsibilities, enforcement will be clearer and administrative burdens will be reduced.

2. Clarifying which textiles are in scope of EPR, both at the commencement of the scheme and in the future, to address the potential for significant variation.

3. Suggesting key principles for reporting systems to accurately calculate and allocate fees, striking a balance between compliance and overburdening producers.

4. Ensuring robust data security to establish trust with the EPR system, reassuring stakeholders on the confidentiality and use of data only for designated purposes.

Ultimately, across all the areas considered, the recommendations for harmonisation of key elements should serve to amplify the positive environmental impacts sought by the EU Textiles Strategy and the sector more broadly.

Bente Bauer, Director of Public Affairs at the Policy Hub said: “The upcoming revisions to the EU Waste Framework Directive provide a great opportunity to join the dots, and create a harmonised approach where this makes sense, reducing the burden on producers and helping the single market to function more effectively in driving the changes that are needed. We must move beyond talking towards action and this report provides a very helpful steer in respect of key elements of the design of EPR for textiles.”

The entire Policy Hub membership has endorsed the report which includes the Steering Group of Adidas, Bestseller, C&A, H&M Group, Inditex and VF Corp.