As a part of the upcoming EU textile legislation, European Environmental Bureau (EEB) led coalition is demanding an end to ‘fast fashion’ in the textile industry, which it claims is one of the world’s largest polluters.
EEB’s proposed measures include minimum standards for how long clothes should last, a ban on the destruction of unsold and returned goods, rules to verify and substantiate green claims, and ambitious targets for an absolute reduction in the amount of natural resources used across the supply chain.
The group is also calling for urgent rules on hazardous chemicals in fashion, and for moves to combat environmental harm and end labour rights’ violations in supply chains.
The group cited European Environmental Agency figures estimating that 675 million tonne of raw materials are being used annually to fuel EU consumption of clothing, footwear, and household textiles. The global fast fashion market is expected to grow from $25 billion in 2020 to $40 billion in 2025, according to the group.
The EU consultation runs until 4 August and a legislative proposal for the strategy is expected by the end of the year.
An analysis by the Royal Society for Arts (RSA) of 10,000 fashion items sold online found the vast majority contained new plastics, with half made entirely from petrochemically-derived polymers such as polyester, acrylic, elastane and nylon.
In a report, Fashion’s Plastic Problem, the RSA said plastics required large amounts of energy, damaged the environment, and could take thousands of years to break down. It said this, combined with a ‘throwaway culture’, meant most items would end up in landfill.
The study, involving clothing from Asos, Boohoo, Missguided and PrettyLittleThing, estimated the average item was 61 per cent plastic and an average of just 3 per cent of clothes containing plastics used recycled polymers.