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EU looks to reduce textile waste

Consumption of clothing, footwear and household textiles in the European Union annually uses 1.3 tons of raw material and over 100 cubic meters of water per person.

Production and handling of clothing, footwear and household textiles that were sold in the EU in 2017 used an estimated 1.3 tons of primary raw material and 104 cubic meters of water per person. About 85 per cent of these materials and 92 per cent of the water were used in other regions of the world. The production of clothing, footwear and household textiles for Europeans caused an estimated 654 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per EU capita, making textiles the fifth largest source of carbon dioxide emissions linked to private consumption. About three quarters of these emissions took place outside the EU.

Current EU policies require member states to collect textiles separately by 2025 and ensure that waste collected separately is not incinerated or sent to landfills. Circular business models in textiles, such as leasing, sharing and take-back and resale, need to be scaled up with the support of policies addressing materials and design, production and distribution, use and reuse, collection and recycling. This can include policies such as sustainable production and product policies, eco design and durability standards, green public procurement, safe and sustainable materials, waste prevention and extended producer responsibility, and labeling and standards.