The Policy Hub just published a proposal to lead the apparel and footwear industry towards a green recovery post-COVID-19 crisis.

Titled "Proposal for an EU Green Recovery Plan in the Textile, Apparel, and Footwear Industry", the proposal outlines green recovery principles boosting sustainability, the economy, and circularity.

The Policy Hub is a joint effort between the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI), and the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA).

The proposal follows the recent European Commission’s 2021-2027 long-term budget. It outlines seven principles necessary for a green recovery for the fashion industry.

“The recovery plan turns the immense challenge we face into an opportunity, not only by supporting the recovery but also by investing in our future: the European Green Deal and digitalization will boost jobs and growth, the resilience of our societies and the health of our environment. This is Europe's moment. Our willingness to act must live up to the challenges we are all facing. With Next-Generation EU we are providing an ambitious answer.”

 - Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the fashion industry hard. Consumers are spending less, retail stores closed, garment factories stood still, and businesses went bankrupt.

The proposal by the Policy Hub suggests that EU authorities and Member States follow a roadmap to ensure economic recovery and the development towards a circular economy.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the global economy. The apparel, textile and footwear industry is no exception. This crisis coincides with sustainability programs and commitments have increasingly become the industry norm and steps towards achieving a circular economy and carbon neutrality are taken. Shifting the economy to a more circular one requires all hands on deck and is a collaborative effort by citizens, industry, and policymakers who can build upon both existing commitments and new initiatives together.”

 - Baptiste Carriere-Pradal, chair of the Policy Hub

Short-term measures for the next 12 months (from 1 to 3) and medium to long-term measures for the next 5 years (from 4 to 7) are included in the seven principles from the proposal. They encourage a shift towards greener choices and sustainable practices in the fashion world.

“The seven key principles the Policy Hub has developed offer a strong foundation for the development of the EU Green Economic Recovery Plan. Based on industry expertise, these short and medium-term measures can effectively guide a robust legislative agenda that drives true sustainable change. The measures, if enacted, will promote more resilient supply chains and help address the current crisis and the ongoing climate crisis."

 - Amina Razvi, Executive Director of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition

Based on discussions with members and partners representing more than 300 brands, retailers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders, the seven principles are:

  1. Leveraging short-term government support to drive green engagement and commitments such as through conditional loans;
  2. Providing tailored support for companies linked to the circular economy, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises potentially through increased EU funding to support re-skilling;
  3. Encouraging a shift in demand towards greener choices and circularity through potential incentives for VAT reduction for circular business models.
  4. Supporting innovative low-carbon activities in accelerating renewable energy market in Europe;
  5. Accelerating circularity by helping to scale up technologies and to establish infrastructure for collection, sorting, reuse and high-value recycling for example through harmonizing end-of-waste criteria;
  6. Fostering circular design and a more sustainable material mix, by defining what a circular and sustainable products is;
  7. Incentivising increased transparency to accelerate the transition towards circularity and empowering the consumer for example through a public-private partnership to provide technological infrastructure.

The proposal is a welcomed and very important initiative in these difficult times for people, businesses, and organizations involved in the global textile and apparel industry.

Through these seven key principles, the Policy Hub provides its initial contribution and looks forward to joining a discussion to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy.

Read the full 12-page "Proposal for an EU Green Recovery Plan in the Textile, Apparel, and Footwear Industry" from the Policy Hub here.

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About the Author: Alex Assoune

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