The destruction of unsold or other excess clothing and footwear by businesses is becoming more and more of a legal offence in the European Union.
Following the March 2022 presentation by the European Commission of the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation and the Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles in support of the creation of “a framework to set eco-design requirements for specific product groups to significantly improve their circularity, energy performance, and other environmental sustainability aspects,” members of the EU Competitiveness Council voted in favour of a ban on the destruction of biological resources.
The European Commission claims that a system of Digital Product Passports will increase the amount of information shared with customers about products, including their “environmental sustainability” credentials, at the point of sale and will help to facilitate “tracking along the supply chain.”
The legislative proposal can now move forward to negotiations between the European Parliament and the individual member states, as both parties must concur on the Ecodesign Regulation before it can be enacted.
According to the European Commission’s initial March 2022 proposal, “the Commission, itself, was to have determined at a later stage whether to put destruction bans in place,” according to Reuters.
However, “the EU governments have agreed that a destruction ban on unsold clothing should apply immediately, rather than waiting for the [Commission] to carry out an assessment that could have lasted three years.”
“A direct-ban on the destruction of textiles, footwear, and apparel” is the Competitiveness Council’s “general approach” to the Ecodesign Regulation at the Union level.
Small businesses will normally be exempt, while medium-sized businesses will receive a four-year exemption. The Council’s strategy gives all other organisations “a minimum transition period of 18 months after the entry into force of the delegated act setting out ecodesign requirements before it starts applying, thus giving economic operators time to adapt to the new requirements.” The appropriate national measures, such as those pertaining to market surveillance and fines, are “also given 2 years to adapt and adopt in Member States.”