Green groups across Europe have joined forces to demand measures to end fast fashion in the textile industry, describing it as one of the world’s largest industrial polluters.

Their demands 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.

They are also calling for urgent rules on hazardous chemicals in fashion and for action to end labour rights’ violations in supply chains as part of wider moves to combat environmental harm.

They have issued the proposals through a report from the Wardrobe Change coalition which includes groups such as the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), ECOS, RREUSE, Plastic Soup Foundation, Zero, Future in Our Hands, Changing Markets Foundation, HEJ Support, Generation Climate Europe, and Green Liberty.

They are calling for the measures to be included in the EU’s upcoming textile legislation which will affect any companies selling garments into the EU as well as manufacturers in EU countries. The European Commission is currently gathering feedback from industry and other organisations with the aim of putting forward new measures by the end of the year.

RREUSE, the international network representing social enterprises active in re-use, repair and recycling, believes tighter measures are needed globally to tackle the damage done to the planet by the textile industry.

Its senior policy officer, Mathieu Rama, said: “The EU urgently needs to redesign the textile industry by tackling overproduction and overconsumption as well as unfair working conditions. To ensure longer-lasting and repairable products, priority must be given to waste prevention and preparing for re-use.

“In parallel, greater support and protection must be given to social economy enterprises active in the sector to help ensure an inclusive and fair textile value chain.”

The report’s demands are also backed by ECOS (Environmental Coalition on Standards), an international non-governmental organisation with a network of members and experts advocating for environmentally friendly technical standards, policies and laws.

ECOS programme manager Valeria Botta said: “The EU can transform the way textile products are designed, making them sustainable by default. Our clothes need to last longer, be easier to mend and reuse, and be made without harmful materials and substances.

“To make sure textiles and their production are truly circular, we need ambitious EU laws that set minimum requirements, push the market towards the best option, and include ambitious binding targets for material and consumption footprints. The EU should grasp this opportunity to finally regulate this industry and inspire others.”

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