EU parliament establishes policies to fight food & textile waste

The European Parliament has taken decisive action to confront the significant challenges posed by textile and food waste within the European Union (EU). Recent data from the European Environment Agency (EEA) reveals that the EU generates a staggering 12.6 million tonnes of textile waste annually. Most of the amount of this waste ends up being incinerated, exported, or deposited in landfills, causing environmental issues. According to data, clothing and footwear alone contribute to 5.2 million tonnes of this waste, which is equal to 12 kg per person annually, and only 22% of those are collected for reuse or recycling. While significant advancement has been made, challenges persist. The EU currently recycles only 1% of all textiles globally, underscoring the need for ongoing innovation in waste management.

On March 13th, 2024, the EU Parliament approved its recommendations aimed at enhancing waste prevention and reduction in the European Union (EU) concerning textiles and food. By prioritizing circular economy principles and sustainable practices, the EU Parliament lays the groundwork for a greener, more resilient future where waste is minimized, resources conserved, and environmental impact reduced. MEPs overwhelmingly endorsed their preliminary position on the proposed Waste Framework revision, with 514 votes in favor, 20 against, and 91 abstentions.

Parliament mandates the evaluation of distinct objectives for the primary production of food waste by 2025, aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which aims to have food loss and waste by 2030—aiming for a 20% reduction in food processing and manufacturing and a 40% reduction in retail, domestic and restaurant. These targets represent a significant increase from the initial proposals, highlighting Parliament’s dedication to combating food waste across the supply chain.

Members of the European Parliament have reached a consensus to prolong the producer responsibility (EPR) schemes. This means that producers selling textiles in the EU will be required to bear the expenses for collecting, sorting, and recycling them individually. Within 18 months of the directive coming into effect, member states must establish these schemes, which is a shorter timeline compared to the 30 months initially suggested by the Commission. The updated regulations will encompass various products like clothing, ac textile accessories, blankets, bed linen, curtains, hats, footwear, mattresses, and carpets, as well as items containing textile-related materials such as leather, composition leather, rubber, or plastic.

Proposed revisions to the Directive permit producers to sell products in the EU to cover the costs of collection, sorting, and recycling of their products.

MEPs acknowledge the effects of sending used textiles to underdeveloped countries and emphasize the importance of a comprehensive framework to ensure global accountability. This involves measures to ensure that financial assistance reaches countries affected by textile overconsumption in the EU.

Rapporteur Anna Zalewska (ECR, PL) has highlighted the efforts made by Parliament to address the issue of food waste. These efforts include initiatives like promoting the consumption of “ugly” fruits and vegetables, monitoring unfair market practices, providing clear date labelling, and encouraging the donation of unsold but consumable food. Additionally, the focus is not only on household textiles but also on non-household products such as carpets and mattresses, as well as sales through online platforms. The new Parliament, which will be in session after the European elections from 6-9 June, will continue to work on this file.

In conclusion, the European Parliament’s adoption of proposals to combat textile and food waste signifies a meaningful stride towards a more sustainable future for the EU. By endorsing measures such as extending producer responsibility schemes for textiles and setting ambitious targets to reduce food waste, MEPs demonstrate a steadfast commitment to tackling environmental challenges. As the directive progresses, it is imperative to sustain momentum and continue working towards implementing circular economy principles and sustainable practices where waste is minimized, resources are preserved, and environmental sustainability is prioritized.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button