Fashion is the third-largest commodity sector in terms of water and land use and the fourth-largest sector in terms of its impact on the environment and climate change: every second a truckload of textiles is disposed of in landfills, or its contents incinerated, and every year an average European citizen throws away 11 kg of textiles.

In recent years, however, the fashion industry seems to have begun to take measures, such as using sustainable materials and adopting more efficient production processes. However, the industry still remains among the most polluting and least sustainable globally, according to studies conducted by TUV SÜD, a company specializing in sustainability business consulting.


According to these studies, global textile production doubled between 2000 and 2015, and by 2030, consumption of fashion items is expected to increase by 63%, and although clothing prices in the EU fell by more than 30 percent between 1996 and 2018 relative to inflation, average household spending on clothing increased by 17 percent, with turnover generated by fashion goods amounting to €169 billion in 2019.

Photo: TUV SÜD
According to the latest Action Plan issued in March 2020 by the EU to achieve the Sustainable Goals by 2030, a shift to a circular economy is also planned for the textile sector.


Key targets for fashion include a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030; a 50 percent reduction in the amount of water used in the entire life cycle of products by 2030; and the complete elimination of the use of hazardous chemicals in production by 2030, among other targets.


The European Green Deal has, in addition, set out a roadmap for making the EU economy sustainable. With respect to the world of the textile industry, these programs pointed to the proposed Directive on Consumer Empowerment for the Green Transition (2022) and the Ecodesign Directive-Regulation on Ecodesign of Sustainable Products (ESPR).


The first measure aims to make business-consumer relations fair and transparent and to support European consumer welfare and the EU economy to help create a circular, clean and green EU economy by enabling consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and thus contribute to more sustainable consumption.


The Ecodesign Directive aims to reduce the environmental impacts of products during their life cycle. According to this directive, the requirements for sustainable products are durability, reusability and repairability of products; absence of substances that hinder circularity; energy and resource efficiency; recycled content; remanufacturing and recycling; carbon footprint and environmental footprint; and information requirements, including a Digital Product Passport, among other requirements.


"To achieve these goals, it will therefore be essential to invest in innovative and sustainable technologies for the production of more durable, recyclable and low-impact fashion fabrics and products, ensuring traceability of the supply chain and promoting greater collaboration between companies, governments, non-profit organizations and consumers in order to create a more sustainable and transparent system, develop recycling and material recovery systems to reduce waste and the environmental impact of the fashion industry," said Raffaella Santoro, director Global Strategic Solutions for the Softlines sector at TÜV SÜD.

Slow Fiber is born

The Materials

Italy’s Slow Food is inspiring Slow Fiber’s fight versus fast fashion

Read more →
Federica Annovazzi, Iluna: "Slowing down fast fashion can help the industry"

The Materials

Federica Annovazzi, Iluna: "Slowing down fast fashion's mad rush can help the industry"

Read more →

The Brands

How Slowear is moving fast to become B-Corp

Read more →
Ian Berry documentary

The People

Discover “Fast Fashion’s Graveyard”, Ian Berry's new documentary film

Read more →