EU ministers on Monday backed a plan on fast fashion to phase out unsold clothing, as it targets many items under tougher sustainability rules.
EU competition ministers met in Brussels last year to approve a plan by the EU Commission, the EU’s executive body, to ban the scrapping of textiles, footwear and other unsold consumer products.
The group wants to reduce the environmental impact of clothing or accessories that are made but never used, especially since the rise of online shopping.
According to the European Union, textiles are the fourth largest contributor to environmental and climate change in 27 countries, after food, housing and transport.
For medium-sized companies, the ban will be exempted for four years, while small companies will be exempted altogether.
The regulations include strict requirements to make products “more durable, reliable, reusable, refurbishable, repairable, reusable and easy to maintain,” the member states said in a statement.
Many other consumer goods will be affected, but food, feed, medicine and veterinary products will be exempt. Cars are also exempted as other laws address their impact on the environment.
Goods should be sold with a “digital product passport”, which could be a QR code, he added.
The rules will come into force after negotiations between the member states and the European Parliament, which will formally endorse the proposals in the coming weeks.
The number of used textiles exported from the EU tripled from 550,000 tonnes in 2000 to 1.7 million tonnes in 2019, according to the European Environment Agency.
The fate of used textiles exported from the EU is “highly uncertain”, the EEA said.