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EU revises Waste Framework Directive. A ‘missed opportunity’, says environmental campaign group

By Huw Hughes


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Textile waste Credits: Unsplash

The European Commission released an updated Waste Framework Directive (WFD) on Wednesday with a focus on textile waste.

The proposed new waste rules look to support the separate collection of textile waste, which will become mandatory in the EU in 2025.

The EU Commision is proposing introducing mandatory and harmonised Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes for textiles in all EU Member States.

That would mean producers would cover the costs of management of textile waste, which the commission said would encourage them to reduce waste and increase the circularity of textile products.

It said the move will “accelerate the development of the separate collection, sorting, reuse, and recycling sector for textiles in the EU, in line with the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles”.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, the commissioner for Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries, said in a statement: “This legislative proposal is a significant step towards a more sustainable and circular textile sector, delivering on our landmark Textiles Strategy.

“Harmonised extended producer responsibility rules across the EU will create a level playing field on the single market and ensure the application of the polluter pays principle.”

He said the initiative will also drive investments in the re-use and recycling infrastructure, create local jobs, boost innovation, and create cost-saving opportunities for shoppers buying vintage or timeless fashion over fast fashion.

The Changing Markets Foundation, an organisation looking to drive a sustainable economy and expose malpractices, welcomed the EPR proposal but said the directive doesn’t go far enough.

‘Missed opportunity’

It said that while the proposal promotes circular textile technologies like fibre-to-fibre recycling, it is a “missed opportunity” as it “lacks specific reuse and recycling targets, potentially limiting its impact”.

This will “undermine nascent initiatives that aim to prioritise reuse and recycling over immediate downcycling or incineration, delaying the much-needed transformation towards a circular economy,” according to Changing Markets Foundation.

Urska Trunk, the organisation’s campaign manager, said: “We welcome this proposal, as it is the first time ever that the fashion brands will be forced to pay for their role in the growing waste crisis. However, the European Commission has missed the mark on textile reuse and recycling, stifling innovation in Europe and failing to put the fashion industry on a more circular trajectory.”

However, the Changing Markets Foundation added that the proposal takes a “much-needed step” by emphasising the importance of proper sorting.

“This approach is particularly important given our recent research findings, revealing that 20 percent to 50 percent of used clothing exported to Africa is waste, ending up in landfills or being burnt,” it said.

Changing Markets Foundation
Circular Fashion
Sustainable Fashion