Extended Producer Responsibility: what does it mean, and what does it change in the textile industry?

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The European Union (EU) is progressing toward a circular economy for textiles. The European Commission proposed introducing some rules to make producers responsible for the entire lifespan of their textile products, and some European countries have already adopted similar schemes. They aim to reduce waste and increase circularity in the textile sector. Let's see how.

The proposal to introduce EPR schemes in the entire European Union

According to the European Commission, the EU produces 12.6 million tons/year of textile waste. 5.2 million tons/year are made up of clothing and footwear, meaning that annually, on average, every person in the EU throws 12 kilograms of clothes and shoes away. Only 22% of this post-consumer textile waste is appropriately collected for reuse and recycling; the remainder is usually landfilled or incinerated.

That is why the Commission proposed some rules to make producers responsible for their textiles across their entire life cycle, including sustainable waste management. The core idea is to separate textile products during the collection stage to sort, reuse, and recycle them, which also means creating new jobs, saving consumers money, and mitigating the impact of textile production on the environment.

The Commission wants to introduce in the entire EU mandatory and harmonized Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) systems for textiles, such as those for batteries and electronic equipment. The costs to manage textile waste will be covered by producers, who will also be incentivized to reduce it and improve the circularity of their items.

The Netherlands has already introduced EPR schemes

The Netherlands has already adopted EPR schemes starting from July 1st, 2023. Importers are involved, as well as producers, in collecting discarded textiles and ensuring they are adequately processed since the rules apply to “the party who is the first to offer the textile product professionally in the Netherlands”. This system applies to “newly manufactured” consumer clothes, workwear, and household textiles. Unsold stock is not covered, while returned products are.

From 2025, there will also be minimum weight percentages for reuse and recycling, increasing yearly. By 2025, 50% of the textile waste in the Netherlands must be reused or recycled, while by 2030, the target will rise to 75%These new rules are meant to encourage the production of high-quality and durable products to extend their lifespan and make their reuse easier. Moreover, they aim to reduce the amount of textile waste dumped in third countries.


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