The EU is shifting to a climate-neutral and circular economy, which means products need to be more energy-efficient, durable, reusable, repairable, and recyclable. Because the fashion and textile industry has such a big environmental footprint, the European Commission is reviewing sustainability claims on apparel and footwear and is exploring options including “mandatory sustainability labelling” for products and using the Product Environmental Footprint methodology to substantiate claims.
This short animation explores what this could mean and why PEF should not be used in its current form:
The problem with the European Commission’s proposal is that the methodology they plan to use to measure environmental impacts of clothing - the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) – is incomplete. It currently downplays or excludes critical environmental impacts and does not reflect the EU’s own sustainability and circularity goals.
Having a standard methodology for sustainability claims can help make fashion and textiles greener. The proposal is likely to set a global standard and could deliver positive outcomes if the method behind it is amended. We must act now and get it right to ensure the claims that companies will use on their labels are credible, that consumers are not misled and to help the industry to make the green transition the EU wants to see.
Consumers should be able to trust sustainability claims on their clothing labels. We are asking European Commission policymakers to update the PEF methodology to make the label count for consumers. Here is where we can start:
The impact of forming natural fibres is fully accounted for in PEF, whereas the impact of forming fossil fuel based fibres starts at extraction. It is not possible to have an equitable comparison of products with different system boundaries, and technically sound solutions to this problem are currently being developed.
The use-phase has a major influence on a garment’s environmental footprint. Factors that extend the lifetime of clothing, including odour resistance, wrinkle resistance, less frequent laundering and the rate of reuse by further owners should be included in PEF methodology.
The socio-economic impact of fibre production and textile manufacturing is not considered in the PEF methodology. Credible measures of sustainability encompass planet, people and prosperity.
The impacts of fibre production are assessed without considering whether sustainable agricultural management practices are used. By failing to assess and incentivise sustainable agricultural practices, an important opportunity to achieve the EU’s goal of ‘protecting and restoring natural ecosystems’ is lost.
Make the Label Count - Briefing Document (ENG)PDF 1.8MB
Make the Label Count - Briefing Dokument (DE)PDF 1.8MB
Make the Label Count - Document d’information (FR)PDF 1.8MB
Make the Label Count - Documento informativo (IT)PDF 1.8MB
Make the Label Count - Documento Informativo (ES)PDF 1.8MB
Make the Label Count - Documento Informativo (PT)PDF 1.8MB
“Credible claims in the fashion industry is a fundamental step towards ensuring consumers make informed choices when buying garments. The fact that this is now being implemented at EU level is wonderful. But it is fundamental for claims on labelling to be accurate and comprehensive, so it does not misrepresent or unfairly favour certain fibre groups. This is why I am proud to be working on the Make the Label Count campaign, calling for a level playing field for sustainability claims and in doing so, drive the change we so urgently need.”
“We’ve had major advancements in research and knowledge around the environmental impacts of the textile industry, but these aren’t yet included in the current PEF methodology. If the Commission proceeds to use the PEF without updating it, the fashion and textile industry won’t make the green transition we all want to see.””
“Life Cycle Assessments can only be compared if they follow exactly the same methodology and boundaries. Such a suite of generic LCAs for textile fibres does not exist. The EU cannot create non-fiscal barriers to trade that will negatively impact some of the poorest on the planet, without first commissioning the studies required.”
The European Commission is seeking feedback on its initiative to tackle microplastics unintentionally released into the environment. There is a critical opportunity to address microplastic pollution in the fashion textile industry by accounting for it in the EU Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) methodology.