The EU wants to put an end to fast fashion by 2030: what consequences will it have?

Increasingly ambitious goals for the European Commission, which has called for the end of fast fashion by 2030, announcing the approval of a series of rules in favor of sustainability, which in the future could apply to any product, starting with fabrics. The measures include a series of stringent rules for large companies, which will have to disclose stocks of unsold products sent to landfills, as part of a wide-ranging plan to suppress the culture of waste. “The products we use every day must last,” Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission responsible for the EU’s Green Deal, told reporters. “If the products break, we should be able to repair them. A smartphone shouldn’t lose its functionality,” he added, expressing frustration that today it is not possible to change a phone’s battery without calling in specialists. “The clothes we wear should last more than three washes and should also be recyclable.”

The EU rules on eco-design and energy efficiency will apply to a series of consumer goods, such as toasters and washing machines, and in the future will also cover the durability and recyclability of a product. The pending rules could also include a stringent requirement for companies to use a certain amount of recycled content in their assets or limit the use of materials that make them difficult to recycle. The European Commissioner for the Environment, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said the Commission wants fast fashion “to go out of fashion”: “By 2030, textiles placed on the EU market should be long-lived and recyclable, made to a large extent with recycled fibers “.

It is unclear to what extent EU plans will change the fashion industry, as decisions on regulating specific products have yet to be made. Mattresses and carpets are seen as likely candidates for the first round of regulation: “It is very unlikely, almost impossible to see [the EU] enforce rules on socks,” a senior Commission official said. “What is much more likely is to apply rules to clothing or footwear.” The hope is that European citizens themselves will enthusiastically embrace the new rules of fast fashion. “The clothes will not need to be thrown away and replaced as often as they do now and that way consumers will actually have a nice alternative, an attractive alternative to fast fashion,” Sinkevičius pointed out.

The proposals are part of the EU plan for the “circular economy”, which aims to lighten Europe’s ecological footprint on the world’s natural resources. The Commission also intends to amend EU consumer law to limit and ultimately ban greenwashing and planned obsolescence. The description of a product as “ecological” will be prohibited where its origin cannot be proved with certainty. Businesses will also be forced to communicate to consumers about features that shorten the lifespan of a product, such as software that disrupts or downgrades the efficiency of smartphones and laptops over time. The Commission could also possibly ban the practice of sending unsold goods to landfills, although officials said they will need more information on the matter before making a final decision. Certainly, such an obligation would represent “a very effective reputational deterrent”.

 

On average, it is estimated that a European throws away 11kg of clothes, shoes and other textiles every year. The textile sector is the fourth largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions, after food, housing and transport. Furthermore, perhaps few people know that the production of fast fashion requires a large consumption of water, as well as raw materials. If the proposals go into effect, they could have a big impact around the world, as nearly three-quarters of the clothing and home textiles consumed in the EU are imported from abroad. Nusa Urbancic, director of the NGO Changing Markets Foundation, said the fashion industry has escaped the “polluter pays” principle for too long. “High fashion brands dazzle us with large quantities of cheap clothes that are not designed to last long, but don’t pay for the mountains of waste that are dumped, even in developing countries. This is wrong and probably, later. today’s announcement, now things will change “.

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