The consumption of textiles, most of which are imported, accounted in 2021 on average for the fifth highest Greenhouse Gas emissions by sector, fourth highest negative impact on the environment and on climate change and third highest for water and land use from a global life cycle perspective
More information on this is available from the European Environment Agency.The 2021 updated Industrial Strategy identified textiles as a key product value chain with an urgent need and a strong potential for the transition to sustainable and circular production, consumption and business models.
Considering that the sector is overwhelmingly comprised by SMEs, only through their action can the green and digital transitions take place. The adoption of sustainable business practices and digital technologies by SMEs is therefore key to the transition.
The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles
The EU textiles ecosystem faces challenges with respect to its future competitiveness that include increased international competition, rising energy costs, unsustainable use of primary raw materials, lack of sufficient recycling and skills gaps. Sustainability presents the industry with both new challenges but also with opportunities.
The EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles, adopted on 30 March 2022, aims to create a coherent framework for the green transition of the ecosystem and to present a vision for the transition, whereby by 2030, textile products placed on the EU market are long-lived and recyclable, to a great extent made of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and produced in respect of social rights.
Textiles Ecosystem Transition Pathway – Co-creation and co-implementation process
The transition pathway for the textiles ecosystem, co-created with relevant stakeholders, identifies specific actions for a greener and more digital future and to ensure the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of the industry.
These actions are grouped into eight building blocks: improving sustainable competitiveness; supporting research, innovation and digitalization; promoting access to essential infrastructure such as recycling hubs; ensuring availability of workers with adequate skills; taking into account the important social dimension by for instance ensuring fair wages; developing a regulatory framework conducive to the twin transition and increased resilience; promoting access to funding, especially for SMEs; and support the ecosystem’s readiness to support defence efforts.
Stakeholders are invited to submit commitments to bring forward actions identified in the Transition Pathway through the call for commitments.
Skills in the TCLF sectors
Skills are key for delivering a fair green and digital transition and for boosting the EU’s competitiveness and social cohesion. The EU Pact for Skills for the Textiles ecosystem has been launched to promote the up/re-skilling and the transfer of green and digital skills to the ecosystem.
The Blueprint Alliances gather key stakeholders from industrial ecosystems to deliver sector-specific skills solutions in order to address skills shortages and unemployment, to develop a sector skills strategy and to set up a long term action plan.