New sustainability measures for the textile sector

April 20, 2022

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In March 2022, among a series of new sustainable product proposals (including a draft regulation on ecodesign for sustainable products), the European Commission announced an EU strategy for circular and sustainable textiles.

The Strategy provides that “By 2030, textile products placed on the EU market will be sustainable and recyclable, largely made of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and produced with respect for social rights and the environment. Consumers benefit longer from affordable, high-quality textiles, fast fashion is out of fashion, and cost-effective reuse and repair services are widely available…..producers take responsibility for their products throughout the value chain, including when they become waste,…. incineration and landfilling of textiles is kept to a minimum”.

The EC is considering many steps to achieve this strategy, including:

  • Binding product-specific ecodesign requirements to increase durability, reuse, repairability and recyclability, and to tackle the unintended release of microplastics into the environment.
  • Development of criteria for safe and sustainable chemicals and materials – to reduce the presence of hazardous substances used in textile products.
  • Introduction of a transparency requirement requiring large companies to publicly disclose the number of products they throw away and destroy, including textiles.
  • Introduction of a digital product passport for textiles based on mandatory information requirements on circularity and other key environmental aspects.
  • Increased information and transparency for consumers at the point of sale regarding product sustainability credentials.
  • Extended producer responsibility requirements for textiles.

According to the EC Strategy Communication, the textiles and clothing sector comprises more than 160,000 companies and employs 1.5 million people, generating a turnover of €162 billion in 2019. World textile production almost doubled between 2000 and 2015, consumption of clothing and footwear is expected to increase by 63% by 2030, from 62 million tonnes currently to 102 million tonnes in 2030. The EC reports that in the In the EU, the consumption of textiles, most of which are imported, now represents on average the fourth highest negative impact on the environment and on climate change and the third highest for the use of water and land in a perspective overall life cycle. In circumstances where around 5.8 million tonnes of textiles are thrown away every year in the EU, the impact of this strategy could be significant.

This alert was prepared by Susy Bullock, with thanks to Sophy Helgesen and Freddie Batho for their input.

Gibson Dunn attorneys are available to answer any questions you may have regarding these developments. For more information, please contact Susy Bullock, the Gibson Dunn attorney you usually work with, or any of the following attorneys from the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) or Fashion, Retail and Products practice groups of cabinet consumption:

Environment, Social and Governance Group (ESG):
Susy Bullock – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4283, [email protected])
Elizabeth Ising – Washington, DC (+1 202-955-8287, [email protected])
Perlette M. Jura – Los Angeles (+1 213-229-7121, [email protected]
Ronald Kirk – Dallas (+1 214-698-3295, [email protected])
Michael K. Murphy – Washington, DC (+1 202-955-8238, [email protected])
Selina S. Sagayam – London (+44 (0) 20 7071 4263, [email protected])

Fashion, Retail and Consumer Products Group:
Howard S. Hogan – Washington, DC (+1 202-887-3640, [email protected])

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Publicity for Lawyers: The enclosed materials have been prepared for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide legal advice.

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