Policy is key to driving a more circular apparel industry

The global apparel industry has long lamented the need to transition to a circular economy – and a new set of proposals for EU policymakers may be the golden ticket in helping foster the change, writes Global Data.
(Source: Markus Distelrath, Pixabay)

Such a shift would see the sector move away from the traditional linear ‘take-make-waste’ process by minimising waste and using materials that can also be recycled and reused at the product’s end of life. Circular business models also include rental, subscription-rental and recommerce.

Beth Wright, Apparel Correspondent at GlobalData, says: “Companies from start-ups to industry heavyweights have thrown their weight behind calls for a more circular industry over the years but with no concrete framework in place, it can be a difficult path to tread.”

The Policy Hub – launched by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) and Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) – recently released two position papers that outline the key principles it says EU policymakers must focus on in order for the sector to transition to a circular economy.

The papers focus on ‘Building blocks for a sustainable circular economy for textiles’ and ‘A common framework for extended producer responsibility (EPR) in the apparel and footwear industry.’ The latter outlines the necessary principles if EPR is to be implemented as the regulatory requirement to separately collect textiles by 2025.

Among the recommendations are that EU policy-makers should leverage existing tools such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s (SAC) Higg Index, the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, and the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI) when designing policies for a circular economy for textiles.

Another suggestion is that the EU should offer incentives that recognise the value each entity brings to minimise waste, along with incentivising the use of secondary raw materials by making them financially viable in comparison to virgin raw materials.

The overarching hope is that policymakers in Europe will use the papers to help drive circular practices in the apparel, footwear and textile sectors and, in turn, help guard against the impacts of climate change.

Wright adds: “The papers are a step in the right direction for the fashion industry. No matter the number of campaigns, programmes and schemes underway that all aim to make the sector more circular, ultimately it is policy and legislation that will truly help to drive substantial and lasting change.

“These recommendations could pave the way to truly accelerating the shift toward a more circular economy and help to establish at the very least a framework and at best, future legislation.”


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