(Source: European Commission)
“Check against delivery”
Thank you very much for inviting me to speak to you today.
Throughout history, fashion and the drive to express ourselves through it have been part of who we are. From purple togas in ancient Rome to our tracksuit-and-blazer teleworking outfits: our clothes are how we tell the world, ‘this is me’.
But we have stopped listening to what the world is telling us about our clothes.
The way we produce and consume clothes is highly, highly unsustainable. In the European Union alone, we waste about 5.8 million tonnes of textiles every year. That is nearly 11 kilos per person. And across the world, a truckload of textiles is landfilled or incinerated, every second.
The wasteful relationship we have developed with textiles pollutes our world. It uses excessive amounts of water and energy, harms nature, and drives greenhouse gas emissions across the globe. Fast fashion is particularly problematic, and the need for change is undeniable.
In the EU, we have laid out a plan to drive this change.
First of all, we want textiles to be designed differently. Textiles will be among the first product groups regulated under our new Ecodesign rules. By 2030, we aim to make textiles on the EU market are durable, reusable, repairable and recyclable. They must be made as much as possible of recycled fibres and contain no hazardous chemicals.
Through these new rules, we also aim to end the destruction of unsold or returned garments and tackle microplastics release. We also intend to introduce digital product passports to guide producers and consumers towards more sustainable choices.
Secondly, we need to address textile waste. Mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility rules will require producers to take stronger responsibility for the textile waste created. And we aim to use a big part of the collected fees to boost reuse and repair sectors.
To make this change a success, the world needs a competitive, resilient, and above all innovative textiles industry. And if one sector has the creativity to come up with new ideas, new designs, and business models, it’s yours. Many of you already have adopted circular economy practices and work more sustainably.
But more can and should be done:
- reduce the number of collections per year,
- come forward with second-hand collections,
- support reuse and repair,
- and do your utmost to minimise carbon and environmental footprints.
Let’s keep fashion sustainable by making sustainability the fashion.
Let’s ensure responsible production and support conscious consumption.
And let’s relegate fast fashion to its correct place in history: the past.
I wish you fruitful discussions and I count on your creativity and cooperation to prove that a truly sustainable fashion sector is possible and attainable.