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FEL Reviews EPR and Proposed Legislation

29-05-2024   


Manufacturing industries, including fashion and textiles, are under increasing pressure and incoming regulations to ensure that they are committing to sustainable practices and supply-chain traceability. 

Currently in the EU there are 16 pieces of legislation in active discussion for all areas of the garment life cycle, from chemicals used in recycling to textile production. Last month, 14th March 2024, L’Assemblée Nationale voted in favour of the bill that tackles low cost, throwaway fashion. The measures, which includes; penalties on garments that qualify as environmentally damaging and a ban on fast fashion advertising, has now been passed to the Senate for a further vote.

All EU countries will be required to launch textile collection programmes by 2025 whereby the destruction of unsold goods will be banned, and legislation such as this is being reflected across the globe in the US and Asia, where 70 percent of the EU’s textiles are manufactured.

It is therefore essential, as fashion manufacturer’s and educators to remain informed and implement best practices and compliance. With the rise of clothing consumption, a reduction in demand for the export of used textiles, and the resulting growth in UK textiles ending up in landfill, textiles is now a strong candidate for the application of an EPR or ‘polluter pays’ policy. This can incentivise waste prevention at the source and promote lower impact design and support wider public re-use and recycling.

EPR has the potential to influence design, encouraging products to be reusable, repairable and durable plus recyclable. For EPR, products will need to be scored against a set of criteria relating to aspects of their environmental impact. The more ‘environmentally-friendly’ the product is the lower the rate. Another key area is the concept of ‘product passports’ – that will provide detailed information on materials for users and recyclers, and will provide more clarity than garment labels currently.

Fashion brands and manufactures will need to use more durable and lower carbon materials, including organic and recycled, making clothes easier to recycle and repurpose.

In France the sorting of textiles has provided 1,400 full-time jobs as of 2017, 49% of which were reserved for workers facing employment difficulty. The French government, as of November 2022, has defined new rules for eco-organisations with EPR. Under which they are required to responsible manage the end-of-life products marketed in the country by either creating their own approved recycling program or by contribution financial to an accredited producer responsibility organisation (PRO). At present ‘Refashion’ is the only eco-organisation accredited to do this.

Refashion is financed by brands, importers, etc to manage end-of-life support for products. In 2020 4,096 members paid 36 million euros to Refashion, of which 17 million went to sorting operators, 4 million to community projects and almost 1 million to innovation projects.

EPR fit for the future; following France’s lead the Netherland’s is addressing repair and reuse, with the possibility of subsidising textile repairs through EPR fees as well as cutting taxes on circular labour practices to make the scheme commercially viable.

Accountable policymakers and industry professionals have already sketched out potential paths forward, including the likes of Ghana-based Or Foundation, which focuses on global secondhand clothing trade. Or Foundation is calling for the French EPR scheme to create an Environmental Fund to support the remediation of current disposal sites such as Korle Lagoon in Accra.

While the Or Foundation’s requests are targeted at the French government, this voice is being echoed around other European countries. The clock is ticking on governments to deliver on sustainability and environmental agendas to tackle global issues as listed in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and this in turn will dramatically alter the fashion and textiles sector.

Fashion-Enter Ltd is a proud member of the United Nations Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network. The network is a dynamic online platform bringing together industry stakeholders, media, governments, and UN system entities to collaborate and showcase responsible business practices guided by the Sustainable Development Goals. 




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