The European Commission presented a package of European Green Deal proposals to make sustainable products the norm, boost circular business models and empower consumers. An important aspect of this new strategy is to tackle fast fashion, textile waste, and the destruction of unsold items. And of course, there’s also the ethical aspect: textiles need to be produced taking into account all human and labor rights. So what’s this new regulation about and what does it mean for fashion brands and manufacturers?
The goal of the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles is to ensure that by 2030 all textile products sold on the EU market are long-lived and recyclable, free of hazardous substances, made of recycled fibers as much as possible and produced in respect of social rights and the environment. Additional goals are:
The EU has already proposed a number of specific measures:
This means that the negative impacts of the sector will be monitored more closely from now on. Fashion brands and manufacturers will need to integrate sustainability, circularity, transparency, and traceability into their overall business strategy:
This also means that the race for big fashion brands to claim a specific sustainability position in the market will become more pressing. We can only hope that this time it doesn’t lead to hollow slogans, but inspires true change. Traceability platforms like TrusTrace and Made2Flow can play an important role in this. By now, I think it has become very clear that the brands that limit themselves to doing the bare minimum will lose their momentum in the long term.
For those pioneering, bold fashion brands that already put circularity, sustainability, ethics, and/or traceability at the core of their business model, this means that the number of (big) competitors will increase tremendously. If you’re one of those companies, now’s the time to define your long-term game plan. You know what’s coming, how are you going to use that to gain a competitive advantage rather than being passed by less ambitious organizations who can spend more on their marketing? We also expect to see a lot of large organizations taking over the pioneering, already sustainable brands. To gain their expertise and their image.
We’re lucky enough to maximize the impact of a couple of organizations that are working very hard to positively transform the fashion industry:
We can only hope that will be the case, but if we’re honest, we don’t think so. This regulation is definitely an ambitious step in the right direction, though. We have to give the big players the time to radically shift their business model, while at the same time push them to not settle for industry minimums.
We love the ambition of the EU to stop greenwashing, but it remains unclear how they are going to track this. Who will define the standards and the line between greenwashing and valid information? Last but not least, we would have loved to see more focus on the ethical and social challenges of fast fashion as well. We don’t see enough focus on these aspects when we look at the measures that are proposed now.
Collective action, between different businesses, but also between businesses and governments is the only way to tilt the scale. So in the end, we are feeling optimistic about this major step taken by the EU Commission. A lot of organizations needed this push. Now it’s up to all relevant governments and businesses to take up their responsibility and make sure that all these beautiful words are finally turned into effective actions.
2021 was a challenging, and formative year for us, but it was also a productive and prosperous year. By publicly sharing our first Impact Report, we hope to inspire others to do the same because we believe this is the only way to become a driver for positive change.