EU Member States push for ban on destruction of unsold clothing

EU Member States push for ban on destruction of unsold clothing
Textile waste mountain in the Chilean Atacama Desert. Credit: Belga

EU Member States are eager to introduce a ban on the destruction of unsold clothing and shoes, the ministers responsible agreed at a European Council meeting in Brussels on Monday.

The ban would help to reduce the waste mountain in the textile sector as well as increase the reusing and recycling of clothes. Belgium was one of the Member States that had pushed for the ban.

"This agreement will accelerate the transition to a more sustainable economy, critical to the circular economy. It also contains bans on destroying other items such as electrical appliances, shoes and hygiene products, among others," said Federal Economy Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne.

After food, housing and transport, textiles have the greatest impact on the environment and climate: the average European throws away about 11 kg of textiles every year. Landfills and incinerators remain the main final destinations.

The agreement – which must still be negotiated with the European Parliament – does contain a number of transitional measures: Member States want a four-year transition for medium-sized companies with a maximum of 250 employees. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees would be exempt altogether.

The ban is part of a broader European ecodesign regulation that aims to ensure that sustainability is already built into the design phase of products and that these goods can be reused, repaired or recycled as much as possible.

The law also introduces a digital passport, enabling consumers to inform themselves about the environmental impact of the product they are buying.

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