European recyclers have called on EU policy makers to press on with their intention to distinguish between textile waste and second-hand textiles in the classifications used for exports and trade data.
The European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) was commenting after the European Environment Agency (EEA) published a briefing on EU trends on exports of used textiles.
EuRIC says it appreciates that exports are being put under the spotlight but calls for caution on the EU’s interpretation of used textile exports. It concedes that the EEA briefing acknowledges a lack of a distinction between textile waste and second-hand textiles but argues it is a ‘significant shortcoming’ and may lead to vague or inaccurate statistics on exports of used clothing.
‘We fully support the EU’s intention to develop specific EU criteria to distinguish between waste and second-hand textiles and are encouraged to see this acknowledged in the EEA briefing,’ said Mariska Boer, president of the EuRIC textile branch. ‘In the absence of this distinction, exports of sorted reusable textiles are understood to be equivalent to exports of unsorted textile waste. This often leads to misinterpretations.’
Boer said the industry was calling on the European Commission to urgently establish a distinction and to introduce including fiscal initiatives to strengthen the market for textile reuse and to boost recycling in the EU.
EuRIC recently commissioned a study which showed that the production of new textiles results in 70 times more environmental damage compared to global reuse. ‘However, to enable a sustainable circular economy for textiles, it is of utmost importance that extensively sorted textiles are exported outside of the EU for reuse and that European and global recycling capacities are scaled up,’ it is argued.
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