Clothes, shoes, curtains: everyone deals with textiles on a daily basis. However, the textile industry has a huge negative impact. After food, housing and mobility, the textile industry is the most stressful for the climate and environment. Our textile consumption and the use of virgin raw materials to produce them must be drastically reduced, but how? We at Fair Resource Foundation are committed to better policies, good producer responsibility and a different handling of textiles.

Environmental impact of textiles

The amount of clothing we consume in Europe has gone up by
40% up
, while the quality, due to increasing use of synthetic fabrics, has deteriorated rapidly. Producing these substances requires non-renewable resources such as oil and gas. Currently consumes the textile industry about 1.35% of global oil consumption. That may not seem like much, but this is over the entire annual oil consumption of a country like Spain. Other fabrics, such as cotton, are also still very damaging to the planet; for example, cotton production requires a lot of land area and water – some
2500 liters
for one shirt.


textile policy

Policy around textile products is determined in several ways. For example, there are policies around producer responsibility for textiles, sustainability requirements for textile products, green claims, export regulations. Some issues are regulated at the European level, while member states can also introduce their own policies for textiles. For example, producer responsibility has already been introduced in the Netherlands, while its introduction at the European level is not yet in force. Textile policy extends not only to environmental issues, but also to social aspects such as working conditions and human rights throughout the production chain. Indeed, textile production is unfortunately still accompanied by forms of exploitation.

Overproduction and consumption

The textile industry differs from other product groups in that supply drives demand for textiles. Fair Resource Foundation is therefore committed to addressing the harmful production levels of textiles. Here we are looking at alternative ways of producing and consuming: reducing excessive consumption, promoting long-term use of clothing and encouraging alternative models such as sharing, swapping and leasing. We seek a balance between satisfying human needs and respecting the limits of the environment to promote a more equitable and sustainable textile industry.

Producer responsibility for textiles

From July 2023, extended producer responsibility (UPV) will apply to textiles in the Netherlands. We have noted before (as here and here) that a number of things go wrong within UPV systems, much of which can be traced back to poor governance. The role of government is too limited, many stakeholders feel sidelined, and enforcement is poor. A lack of transparency – in terms of claims, but also in terms of production numbers and material use – combined with the desire to make as much profit as possible, hinders the transition to a sustainable textile industry.

One way to measure sustainability is to avoid virgin raw materials. A garment that is not produced and therefore not purchased by the consumer is ultimately the most sustainable solution. Therefore, we are committed to addressing producer organizations that lobby against environmental policies and encourage UPV systems that achieve more positive impact.

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    Who works on this

    Janine Röling

    EPR and EU policy coordinator