A successful transition to a more sustainable and circular European textiles sector will require all European stakeholders to come together and agree on a truly combined effort.
Today, trade unions representing textile workers across Europe met to discuss the recovery of the sector following the COVID-19 crisis and to support the release of industriAll Europe’s position paper on the EU textiles strategy. Trade unions insist that a truly sustainable EU textiles strategy must focus on workers as well as the environment.
The EU textiles strategy, due to be published by the European Commission before the end of the year, has been described as a plan to help the EU shift to a climate-neutral and more circular economy, where textiles products are designed to be more durable, reusable, repairable, recyclable and energy-efficient. The European Commission hopes that the strategy ensures that the textiles sector can recover from the COVID-19 crisis in a sustainable way by making the European sector more competitive, applying circular economy processes throughout the entire lifecycle of the product and investing in research and innovation.
Judith Kirton‐Darling, Deputy General Secretary for industriAll Europe, said:
‘’The textiles and garment industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic due to closures in the retail sector and stoppages of downstream users such as the automotive sector. Many textile workers suffered during the pandemic, either by having their wages cut, or even losing their jobs, due to the crash in demand. However, these workers have also been critical in making the masks and other forms of PPE that we desperately needed and continue to need. The EU textiles strategy needs to ensure a positive future, not just in terms of the environment, but also for the hundreds of thousands of workers in Europe whose livelihoods depend on the sector.’’
The industriAll Europe position paper, which covers how to decarbonise the sector from start to finish, from access to sustainable raw materials to new infrastructure for collection and recycling, also insists on strong legislation on human rights due diligence, actions to tackle unfair trading practices and further measures to level the global playing field. European trade unions highlight that the green and digital transition of the industry must be supported by a strong EU policy framework that is cohesive and tackles the challenges which will face the sector, including higher costs (e.g. changes in production processes and access to clean energy), technical difficulties which will require investment in R&D, and legislation (e.g. for waste).
Judith Kirton‐Darling, added:
‘’A successful transition to a more sustainable and circular European textiles sector will require all European stakeholders to come together and agree on a truly combined effort. Textile workers will be at the heart of the transition to a more sustainable and circular textiles ecosystem and they, and their communities, must be supported to ensure that this is a success.’’