13 October 2021
Wearing and washing synthetic clothing releases plastic microfibres. Anyone buying clothes must be informed of this. But the European method used for information on labels does not sufficiently do this. For this reason, the Plastic Soup Foundation is joining the Make the Label Count campaign that is being launched in Brussels today.
THE PRODUCT’S ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT
Things need to be greener and more sustainable in Europe. This goes for the textile sector too. Part of Europe’s sustainability plans is that consumers be better informed about the effects on the environment. To this end, new European standards will be introduced for clothing labels that will provide information to consumers and enable them to make more conscious choices. In preparation for the assessment, the European Commission is looking at a particular methodology, the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF).
PEF BASED LABELLING
The European Commission intends to introduce mandatory labeling in line with the PEF. This method, whose emphasis lies in reducing CO2, was developed in 2012 and is also used in other sectors. But it has serious shortfalls. PEF does not look at the plastic microfibres that are released during production, wearing, and washing synthetic clothing. Neither does PEF look at the life of textiles nor whether they are biodegradable or recyclable.
Every wash has the potential to release millions of plastic microfibres into the wastewater. If this aspect is not taken into consideration, producers can label their clothing as sustainable and score well on their CO2 footprint even if their clothing is made of fossil fuels. This is especially prevalent in the fast fashion industry. Instead of being informed honestly and fairly, consumers are misled, as Make The Label Count explained in the news media Politico.
MAKE THE LABEL COUNT
The Make The Label Count campaign is being launched today. It argues for the PEF method to be adapted and to take the drawbacks mentioned above into account. If this does not happen, labels in the future could mislead consumers and open the doors to greenwashing.
JOINT LETTER FROM ELEVEN MEMBER STATES
In a recent joint letter to the European Commission, 11 member states, including the Netherlands, shared their views on the EU’s strategy on sustainable textiles. The textile sector too needs to become more sustainable and proper labeling is a step in the right direction. The member states argue that clear goals need to be set for the collection, reuse, and recycling of textiles. Special attention needs to be paid to PFAS, flame retardants, and persistent organic pollutants. These hazardous substances must be banned or regulated within the REACH framework.
Further, the 11 countries argue that the release of plastic microfibres must be minimised. But without adopting the PEF method, consumers will not be informed of this through the labeling.
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