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European Commission exposes industry's self-governed sustainability definitions, to publish proposal for regulations


More than half of the green claims made by clothing and textile web pages are unsubstantiated or simply untrue, according to a recent sweep by the European Commission.

The findings highlight the prevalence of greenwashing in the fashion industry, which is facilitated by self-governed definitions of sustainability. Consumers are eager to make a difference, but without regulation and harmonized sustainability language, their green purchasing decisions may not be effective.

A recent Forbes study shows that Generation X and Z consumers are willing to pay 10% more for green products. However, the industry must ensure that these claims are based on robust scientific data and represent the best industry standards.

The European Commission is due to publish its proposal on substantiating environmental claims soon. This proposal is crucial in turning the tide of textile pollution and saving valuable resources, but the methodology used to underpin the policy is essential.

The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is currently the most substantial method, but it is incomplete and does not account for the positive impacts of natural fibers. The PEF methodology must be updated to include indicators on microplastic release, plastic waste, and circularity.

Clothing is one of the biggest contributors to microplastic pollution, with synthetic fabrics accounting for 35% of the total primary floating microplastics in the world's oceans. A clearly defined plastic waste indicator should also be introduced to the PEF, given the significant contribution of synthetic clothing to fast fashion and plastic waste.

The inclusion of a circularity indicator is also essential to delivering the EU's circular economy goals. It is critical that the PEF is brought in line with the latest science and made fit for purpose to ensure it helps deliver the EU's sustainability and circularity ambitions.

The omission of indicators linked to synthetic clothing will result in misguiding well-meaning consumers and could lead to the duplication of the mess currently dealt with in the industry.


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