New EU regulation aims to reduce waste and increase resource efficiency

The latest EU regulation drives the reduction of waste and the increase of resource efficiency, especially in the fashion industry

EU regulation cover

Author: House of Eden

  • The European Parliament adopted an EU regulation to reduce significant amounts of waste and establish sustainable products as the standard.
  • Companies will be obliged to make products more durable and promote reusability, while consumers will be better informed through digital product passports.
  • The fashion industry is facing a ban on the destruction of unsold products to curb overproduction and reduce environmental impact.

On 5 December 2023, the European Parliament adopted a new EU regulation to combat the significant annual increase in waste, particularly in the textile sector. This initiative pursues the overarching goal of climate protection and aims to establish sustainable products as the standard. This is to be achieved by reducing waste and saving resources, energy and water. The EU regulation stipulates that companies must improve various product aspects in order to promote their longevity and thus fulfil the requirements of a sustainable economy.

Ban on the destruction of unsold consumer goods

Recently, negotiators of the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on updating the Ecodesign requirements for sustainable products. Large companies have a two-year time frame to implement the new rules, while small and medium-sized companies have six years to do so.

The new EU regulation aims to establish sustainable products as a standard. This requires companies to revise various aspects of their production processes and products. The main aim is to give products a longer lifespan while making it easier to reuse, repair or recycle products.

The agreement also emphasises that companies should provide consumers with better information in future. This is to be achieved through the introduction of digital product passports, which will be accessible via a public web portal. This will provide consumers with sufficient information to make more informed purchasing decisions.

As part of the parliamentary initiative, it was agreed to give priority to certain product groups. These include iron, steel, aluminum, textiles (especially clothing and shoes), furniture, tires, cleaning products, paints, lubricants and chemicals.

EU regulations prohibit the disposable standard in the fashion industry

It is common practice in the fashion industry to destroy or burn unsold items of clothing, bags or shoes in order to prevent further sales or discounts. However, this practice is prohibited by the latest EU regulation.

The regulation does not impose any direct restrictions on production volumes or collection numbers, which gives fashion companies some flexibility. Nevertheless, companies that produce excessively are sanctioned. In addition, all companies are obliged to report on the quantity and reasons for the destruction of unsold consumer goods. This obligation could potentially affect the image of some brands.

In the fashion industry, an alarming 73 percent of the clothes, shoes and bags produced end up in landfill. Given the enormous production volumes that our society manages, this is the equivalent of a lorry full of textiles being dumped in landfill or incinerated every second. Such a regulation is therefore essential to curb overproduction and reduce the industry's environmental impact.

Lack of clarity in EU regulations for the fashion industry

The future of the EU regulation for the fashion industry still raises some questions that require clarification. One point that has not yet been clearly defined concerns the categorisation of goods as "unsold goods", particularly in relation to slightly damaged products or those that the company wishes to recycle itself. The question of what exactly falls under the prohibition of "destruction" also remains open. It is unclear whether independent recycling is still permitted or whether it is considered "destruction". Furthermore, it is not specified what alternatives to destruction are envisaged for unsold products.

Despite these unresolved aspects, the new EU regulation represents a significant milestone in the area of ​​climate protection.

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