Environmental Impact of the Textile and Clothing Industry in the EU

environmental impact of the fashion industry

The Textile and Clothing Industry can be complex. Textiles and clothing is a diverse sector that plays an important role in the European manufacturing industry. This sector has undergone radical change recently to maintain its competitiveness with a move towards sustainability in textiles, with a higher value. The EU textile and clothing industry is the leader in world markets. It exports to the rest of the world and represents more than 30% of the world. The EU market is also one of the most important in terms of size, quality, and design.

Most household expenses in the EU are spent on clothing and footwear.  According to Nikolina Sajn, between 1996 and 2012 clothing purchases increased by 40%, yet at the same time, more than 30% of the clothing purchased was not been used. For example, a trend that contributed to this is the rise in fast fashion. The rise in this fashion trend also made a significant impact on clothing purchases. It relies on mass production, low prices and large volumes of sales. This is based on knocking off styles from high-end fashion shows and delivering them in a short time at cheap prices. Typically using lower quality materials.


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Environmental issues heavily impact the clothing industry in the EU. Europe is a key market for sustainable apparel. There is a widespread concern in Europe about environmental issues and a general belief in the value of more sustainable lifestyles. Materials, such as cotton, polyester, and manmade cellulosic’s has made an impact due to the production of the materials. Depending on the required material, it can hurt or help. This has led to consumers not appreciating the clothing and throwing them away after wearing them only a few times.

Consumers expect fashion businesses to be responsible for social and environmental issues. Moreover, relative to the EU consumer consumption basket, the price of clothing fell by 36% (2019).

There are changes happening for the future of the textile and clothing industry. Implementation of technology enables recycling clothes into virgin fibers. Other ways proposed to help the industry includes developing new business models for clothing rentals and designing products in a way that would make reuse and recycling easier. Therefore, convincing consumers to buy fewer clothes of better quality will generally steer consumers behavior towards choosing more sustainable options. Targeting consumers is a direct approach to improving the textile and clothing industry.

Knowledge of the causes of the decrease in consumption invites productive changes to increase consumer interest and productivity. In the EU, Parliament called on the Commission to promote the use of ecological and sustainably managed raw materials and the reuse and recycling of garments and textiles. Lastly, Some things to keep in mind are to define what the core values are in promoting your product, make an inventory of the buyer’s sustainability requirements, research where and how you can implement the requirements and monitor new developments.

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