MEPs backs proposal for tougher targets on textile and food waste

EU

On Wednesday, the European Parliament adopted its proposals to increase binding waste reduction targets for food and textiles across the EU.

The proposals include higher binding waste reduction targets to be met at the national level by 31 December 2030. These include at least 20% in food processing and manufacturing (instead of the 10% proposed by the Commission) and 40% per capita in retail, restaurants, food services and households (instead of 30%).

Parliament said it also wants the Commission to evaluate if higher targets for 2035, at least 30% and 50% respectively, should be introduced, and asked them to come up with a legislative proposal. MEPs adopted their first reading position on the proposed revision of the Waste Framework with 514 votes in favour, 20 against and 91 abstentions.

MEPs agreed to extend producer responsibility (EPR) schemes, which require producers that sell textiles in the EU to cover the costs of collecting, sorting and recycling them separately. Member states would have to establish these schemes 18 months after the entry into force of the directive – compared to 30 months proposed by the European Commission.

For textiles, we also want to include non-household products, carpets and mattresses, as well as sales via online platforms.

The new rules would cover products such as clothing and accessories, blankets, bed linen, curtains, hats, footwear, mattresses and carpets, including products that contain textile-related materials such as leather, composition leather, rubber or plastic.

Rapporteur Anna Zalewska (ECR, PL) commented: “Parliament has come up with targeted solutions to reduce food waste, such as promoting ‘ugly’ fruits and veggies, keeping an eye on unfair market practices, clarifying date labelling and donating unsold-but-consumable food. 

“For textiles, we also want to include non-household products, carpets and mattresses, as well as sales via online platforms.”

Industry reactions

Circular economy

James Beard, Head of Voluntary Compliance at Reconomy brand Valpak, said: “We are pleased to see that the EU is spurring the movement towards greater circularity, and we hope to see this continue as circular resource management climbs up politicians’ agendas.

“Textiles are one of the main offenders when it comes to environmentally harmful materials. Not only are they uniquely challenging to recycle, due to their composition, but their production and disposal are highly energy intensive, using up valuable finite resources.

“EPR provides businesses with a great opportunity to take stock of their legacy production and disposal methods and integrate cutting-edge technological solutions which not only safeguard their future growth but also minimise their production costs and maximise their revenues.

“With the focus of today’s debate orbiting around the urgency to bring the textile industry up to speed with the global movement towards a circular economy, preparation will be vital to overcoming the regulatory hurdles on the way.”

Only a small part of discarded textiles is today reused and recycled.

Claudia Mensi, FEAD President commented: “Only a small part of discarded textiles is today reused and recycled. If the separate collection is well implemented in 2025, we will have big amounts available in the EU, but we also need the capacity to sort, prepare for reuse and recycle this waste. 

“The private industry is ready to invest but needs to see some signals that the framework that will be in place will offer a level playing and the right market conditions, where no actors are privileged or enabled to hold dominant positions.”

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