The EU is preparing to legislate on sustainable fashion. Will it work?

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Maeve Galvin, director of global policy and campaigns at Fashion Revolution, suggests the EU could borrow from the Senate Bill 62, the garment labor law passed in California last year, guaranteeing a minimum wage for workers. workers and holding brands accountable for violations with third parties. the partners.

“The proposal does not cover SMEs at the moment, the scope of business is too limited,” says Muriel Treibich of global advocacy organization the Clean Clothes Campaign. “It also misses the point of unfair purchasing practices, which allow brands to impose low prices and change orders at the last minute, affecting both the environment and human rights. man in the supply chain.”

“There is a question mark over how the EU will measure sustainable textiles and clothing,” says Dalena White, secretary general of the International Wool Textiles Organization and spokesperson for Make The Label Count, an international coalition fighting against greenwashing in the EU. “The EU plans to use the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) method, which currently does not include turnover, biodegradability, biodiversity, social impacts or microplastic pollution.”

Fashion Revolution, which produces an annual Transparency Index based on sustainability information brands share publicly, says the EU has an opportunity to include the challenge of overproduction in its strategy. “Our data shows that only 14% of brands share information about their production,” says Galvin.

Wider change is needed

Experts say the EU needs to recognize its wider context and the need for better infrastructure around fashion if its proposals are to succeed. The main question is what this means for companies operating outside the EU and how to link this strategy to other attempts to regulate fashion in other regions.

“There is a need for national regulation to establish and improve recycling infrastructure, and financial support to scale recycling technologies faster,” notes Boger of Boston Consulting. The committee encourages Member States to create tax advantages for reuse and repair companies.

“It’s fantastic that we’re starting to see legislation in different regions, but fashion is global,” says Bannigan of the Fashion Impact Fund. “We need to see unity between governments and trading countries. We need more collaboration and collectivism to build the infrastructure to realize this vision. It cannot simply be a policy of lowering the government.

Tamara Cincik, founder and CEO of responsible fashion think tank Fashion Roundtable, worries about what this means for the UK after Brexit, as well as other countries outside the EU. “There will be additional costs for businesses outside the EU that depend on trade with EU member states,” she explains. “I fear the UK will be left behind when it comes to sustainability legislation and businesses will leave the UK if they don’t get government support to meet new EU requirements.”

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