EU Looks Closer at Responsible Garment Policy

You are here

EU Looks Closer at Responsible Garment Policy 

On 25 April 2016, IWTO attended the third high level meeting towards the development of an EU Garment Initiative, hosted by the European Commission (EC) in Brussels, Belgium. Using the third anniversary of the Rana Plaza Disaster as context, the meeting, Responsible Management of the Supply Chain in the Garment Sector, focused largely on labour issues while showcasing initiatives currently tackling key challenges in the sector.

However, a number of potentially significant issues for the wool industry arose, notably:

  • The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and its Higg Index (tool for measuring social and environmental performance of brands and retailers) is increasingly recognised in the CSR space
  • Participants expressed the desire to utilise existing initiatives such as the Higg Index to ensure a common language and to counter “audit fatigue”
  • The German Textile Alliance provides a platform for 75% of Germany’s textile business (EN/DE) aimed at strengthening the circular economy which identifies sustainability hot spots for its members
  • CSR for the garment sector is a crowded market place: if a new initiative is created, it should be a flagship bold statement

The need for supply chain transparency was a recurrent theme. “Many enterprises initially did not want to join the German Government's Textile Alliance but it has helped bring companies around the table,” reported MEP Arne Lietz (SPD, Germany), one of the opening speakers. “Now there is a commitment to track and approve supply chains for sustainability and social responsibility.

The event also highlighted the development of a number of tools to aid fashion designers make ‘sustainable’ decisions regarding their fabric choices, including the Flanders Fashion Institute’s Close the Loop (EN/NL) and The Fabric Source, the Danish Fashion Institute’s Sustainability Fabric Library.

Eighty per cent of garment's environmental impact is decided at the design phase,” noted Jonas Eder, development director of the Danish Fashion Institute.

The 28 EU Member States together make the EU the biggest consumer of textiles in the world. The EU has the power for implementing policy across borders and is well-positioned to utilise its strength in this area. Next steps for the initiative have not yet been announced.

For more information, including presentations, click here. 

Find a laboratory near you

IWTO Newsletter

Stay up to date with IWTO - subscribe to our newsletter today.