New eco-labels for fabrics introduced into the EU are not strict enough, campaigners say.
De By 2023, all clothing and footwear sold in the EU will include color-coded labels informing customers of the products 'environmental impact. But the Make the Label Count campaign, launched this week, says themeasurement system developed in 2013 is misleading, outdated and not in line with EU climate targets.
Fossil fuel-derived fibers such as polyester will be certified as more environmentally friendly than natural fibers, according to activists and trade groups.
" Under the current system, all natural fibers will get a red rating, "said Dalena White, secretary general of the International Wool Textiles Organization. “Indeed, microplastic pollution, biodegradability and renewal are excluded from the evaluation criteria, and these are the areas where natural fibers really shine.
Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is an EU standardized system which aims to measure the environmental impact of commercial goods. It was developed ins the aim of providing transparent and reliable information to consumers while making it easier for manufacturers to certify their products in Member States.
PEF has been tested in one pilot project on 25 products ranging from beer to stationery, T-shirts to leather. However a the report produced by the campaign argues that the system is not well suited to the fashion industry and does not reflect the ambitions of the EU, which have developed over the past eight years, or the current scientific co-nsensus, which considers microplastic pollution to be a major environmental concern.
A spokesperson for the European Commission said there is had a "way to go " before the categories under which the PEF is assessed were finalized.
"The committee is relatively behind the idea of making the label count," said Paola Migliorini, representative of the committee, during a roundtable at the launch of the campaign. She underlined that the European strategy for the textile industry was still "a work in progress " and that it would give priority to the scientific assessment of the life cycles of textiles.
White said the commission's methodology was flawed. “The life cycle of textiles made from petroleum fibers is measured from the moment the petroleum is extracted at the wellhead. So the water, the land or the years it took to make this oil is not measured, ”she said. “But the life cycle of wool is measured from the day it begins to grow on the sheep's back, and that takes eight to 12 months. It also measures all the land and water needed for the growth of the wool.e.
White also said the method does not take into account what happens to the fibers after they enter landfills. But she remains hopeful that the PEF can still be amended. "We all desperately need some form of measurement," she said. “So the most practical solution would be to take all the hard work that has gone into developing the PEF and add the missing points to it. We are running out of time. "