Fashion is an industry that stretches right around the globe – and it has an environmental footprint to match. The fashion value chain produces 92 million tonnes of waste and is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. This has an unsustainable impact on our natural resources and environment at each stage of the supply chain, from the sourcing of raw materials, through the manufacture of clothing to the end-of-life stage. Much blame is increasingly laid at the door of ‘fast fashion’, but luxury brands do not escape blame: this is an industry-wide problem.

To address the unsustainable patterns of production and consumption in the fashion industry, new Europe-wide legislation is on the horizon. As part of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan, an EU Strategy for Textiles is proposed, which includes a raft of core policies to address the way clothing is designed, what is communicated to consumers, and the ways clothing and textiles are managed at end-of-life.

One of the key measures proposed is a framework of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). This approach makes producers and fashion brands responsible for the costs of collecting, sorting, and recycling their products at the end of their life and incentivises eco-design.

The aim is to incentivise brands to implement less resource-intensive practices, such as sustainable sourcing of raw materials and designing clothing to be longer-lasting or able to be recycled, throughout the entire value chain. This mechanism can also provide funding for both the R&D and subsequent implementation of recycling technologies and associated collection infrastructure, effectively closing the loop and keeping resources and materials in circulation for as long as possible.

These changes will apply to the entire EU market, and by extension will have far-reaching global impacts across the supply chain. All the signs are that legislation will be driven through on an accelerated timeframe, following the example of 2019’s Single Use Plastics Directive, which means fashion brands and producers will need to quickly get up to speed on how this will impact their business models.

We are continuing to expand our focus in the area of fashion and textiles sustainability, and our expertise on EPR and end-of-life waste management options make us well placed to help companies adapt to new requirements they will be expected to meet.

We hosted a webinar with Brussels-based strategy and public affairs consultancy ADS Insight on 27th January 2021 to explore the significant challenges that the fashion and textiles industry will need to address in light of upcoming changes to legislation on how textiles and clothing are produced and recycled in the EU. You can view a full recording of the webinar below.

We have worked on EPR in numerous sectors including packaging, electronic and electrical items, batteries, end-of-life vehicles, carpets, and carried out ground-breaking research into the problems posed to EPR schemes through the growth in online sales, and the ways in which this issue can be addressed. You can find some examples below of our thinking on EPR and how it relates to the fashion industry:

Please get in contact with our team if you would like to know more about the services and advice we can provide in this area.