Ecopreneur shows bold policies are needed to mainstream sustainable fashion

In the current ‘linear’ model, large amounts of non-renewable resources are extracted to produce clothes that are often used for only a short time, after which they are discarded. It is time to move fashion towards a ‘circular’ model where clothes, textiles, and fibres are kept at their highest value during use so that they can re-enter the economy and avoid becoming waste.

According to Ecopreneur, a Coordination Group member of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, a set of policy instruments to accelerate and mainstream a European circular fashion economy should be based on five pillars. In their new report, Circular Fashion Advocacy, they outline these as follows:

  1. Innovation policies – research programmes with subsidies, investment tax deduction, and support for technological development, innovation and small and medium-sized enterprises.
  2. Economic incentives – procurement, extended producer responsibility, VAT, and a tax shift to drive market demand for circular products and services.
  3. Regulation – establishing and enforcing a common regulatory framework for transparency and traceability, circular design and improved end-of-waste status across the EU.
  4. Trade policies – facilitating export of semi-finished products and sorted, reusable textile waste to producing countries, and avoiding negative social impacts in producing countries.
  5. Voluntary actions – covenants, commitments and standards are encouraged to engage stakeholders, with legislation standing by in case of lacking results.

“Governmental policies create the rules by which companies and economies operate. Without an enabling policy framework, circular economy will never become mainstream. The intention of this report is to offer other organisations and the industry a baseline of policies from which to build on” affirms Douwe Jan Joustra, Head of Circular Transformation at C&A Foundation. “With the support of C&A Foundation, Ecopreneur is also working to increase its cooperation with NGOs and other stakeholders, expand its European business network and support the fashion industry in creating a European circular economy policy strategy”, he adds.

“Ecopreneur recommends to further develop the optimal policy mix into a detailed strategy for the sector’s advocacy and communicate the messages and actions listed in this report in a concerted action” says Manfred Mühlberger, President of Ecopreneur. “We therefore call on the fashion industry to jointly work on this circular fashion advocacy agenda.”