Will New EU Rules Be the End of Fast Fashion?

Avatar for Katerina Kadlecova

A few weeks ago, the European Commission announced that they are working on new rules with the aim to make sustainable products the norm. Although these rules concern all physical products, the potential effect on fast fashion in particular stands out.

By 2030, the European Union would like all garments to be durable, recyclable, and partly made from recycled materials. Furthermore, the EU is looking to ban destroying unsold products and improve working conditions in the industry.

The crucial part of this proposal is also clear communication towards consumers. It will likely take some time before we see these rules in place. However, it is already becoming increasingly important to inform consumers about the impact of products through clear and informative product content.

While a significant number of consumers are making a switch to more sustainable alternatives and secondhand, fast fashion is still booming and players such as SHEIN are thriving. Fast fashion merchants produce thousands of new products every day. These tend to last less than a season, as they are of lower quality and following current short-term trends. Legislation that manages the impact of products is therefore crucial.

“We want sustainable products to become the norm on the European market,” said Frans Timmermans, EU commissioner responsible for the environment. “It’s time to end the model of ‘take, make, break, and throw away’ that is so harmful to our planet, our health, and our economy.”

The Circular Economy Action Plan

The new rules are a part of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan that promotes more sustainable products. Based on this plan, goods sold in the EU would have a rating on a sustainability scale. This would demonstrate the products’ environmental impact, their durability, and how easy it is to repair them. This is similar to the efficiency rating from A to G that is in place for electronical appliances. For fashion, the EU would like to introduce labeling that tells consumers how easily recyclable and environmentally friendly they are. 

It is clear that the EU targets fashion specifically due to its enormous effect on the environment. “The consumption of textiles, most of which are imported, now accounts on average for the fourth-highest negative impact on the environment and on climate change and third-highest for water and land use from a global life cycle perspective,” says the European Commision document.

The proposal will set a framework and a process. The Commission will progressively set out requirements for each product or group of products. 

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