Textile industry: environmental impact and regulations

3 min read
September 28, 2022 at 12:05 PM

The textile industry: a sector with a strong impact on climate change.

With 1.7 million tons of CO2 emitted annually, accounting for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the textile industry is a major contributor to global warming. At the European level, clothing is the fourth most environmentally sensitive consumption category, preceded by food, housing, and transport (1). Indeed, the demand for clothing is increasing with unprecedented speed: from 62 million tons in 2015 to 102 million tons in 2030 (2). 

Despite this high demand for clothing, 80% of French consumers are willing to take into account the environmental impact of their purchases, but generally lack reliable information to act effectively (3). This helps explain the emergence of new European regulations in favor of sustainable and circular textiles.

An industry subject to robust and growing regulation.

1. The Anti-waste for a Circular Economy Law (AGEC)

Effective January 1, 2022, the Act prohibits the destruction of unsold nonfood products. Companies will now have to reuse, donate or recycle their unsold products, rather than landfill or incinerate unsold goods.

Under Article 13 of the law, consumers are required to be informed of certain environmental characteristics of purchased products.

As of January 1, 2023, all producers and importers whose annual turnover is greater than €50 million and who distribute more than 25,000 units per year, must communicate the following information on a dematerialized medium for a minimum period of two years:

  • Geographical traceability of the 3 main manufacturing stages (weaving, dyeing, assembly/finishing);
  • as well as a warning concerning synthetic fabrics that reject micro-plastic fibers during washing.

2. The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles

Adopted on March 30th 2022, alongside a series of legislative proposals from the European Commission, this strategy proposes measures that target the entire life cycle of textile products by 2030 (5). The measures envisaged include:

  • A minimum of recycled fibers in the composition of fabrics to make them more resistant and easier to repair and recycle;
  • Greater textile information and a digital product passport;
  • Strict controls on greenwashing to protect consumers.

The strategy takes into account the key role of the consumer in achieving the ecological transition, as they will be entitled to compensation for infringement, once the law has been transposed into the national legislation of the Member States.

3. The Climate and Resilience Law

Resulting from the work of the Citizens' Climate Convention, the Climate and Resilience Act dates from August 24 2021, and is based on five themes. More importantly, it sets out to create an environmental label for consumers (6).

Similar to a Nutri-score, this display is presented in the form of a visual rating, between A and E to be displayed on products in stores and online. Currently, ecolabelling is not mandatory in France. However, as of January 1, 2023, it will gradually come into force for textile clothing products.

This new regulatory context for the textile industry is not only a sign of a growing societal commitment but also of the awareness of governments. Just like the NFRD (soon to be CSRD), the laws in favor of the environment are becoming more and more precise and affect more and more industries considered as extremely polluting. 

In line with these regulations, it is necessary for companies to adopt a solid environmental approach. This starts with measuring your carbon footprint. At ClimateSeed, we have developed the ideal emissions monitoring tool, which facilitates the calculation of your carbon footprint whatever your sector. The different missions we have conducted with textile companies have allowed us to build robust databases and to have a detailed understanding of the sector's value chain. Contact us to start your approach.

Sources :

  1.  vie-publique.fr. (2022, April 12). UE : quelle stratégie pour une industrie textile durable d'ici à 2030 ?
  2. Rapport du WWF sur l’industrie de l’habillement et des textiles. (s. d.). WWF Suisse.
  3. (Enquête Ipsos MORI réalisée avant la crise sanitaire, 2019).
  4. Mise en œuvre des lois « Anti-gaspillage pour une économie circulaire » et « Climat et Résilience » : plusieurs textes d’application importants ont été publies ces derniers jours. (s. d.). Ministères Écologie Énergie Territoires.
  5. Stratégie de l’Union européenne pour des textiles durables. (2022, 30 mars). Commission européenne. https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12822-Strategie-de-lUnion-europeenne-pour-des-textiles-durables_fr
  6. vie-publique.fr. (2022, 8 juin). Loi du 22 août 2021 portant lutte contre le dérèglement climatique et renforcement de la résilience face à ses effets. Consulté le 27 septembre 2022, à l’adresse https://www.vie-publique.fr/loi/278460-loi-22-aout-2021-climat-et-resilience-convention-citoyenne-climat