WWF backs textile and apparel industry’s proposals for a greener recovery in Europe as long as funds are spent in line with EU’s nature and climate objectives

Posted on 17 June 2020

As Europe grapples with the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, WWF welcomes today’s launch of the Proposals for an EU Green Recovery Plan in the textile, apparel and footwear industry.
The proposals were developed by the Policy Hub a joint effort of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) and Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) – and will help countries and this critical industry to ‘build back better’.

WWF agrees with the Policy Hub that the pandemic has occurred in a period when sustainability programmes and commitments are increasingly becoming the norm in the industry, and how relevant these are to efforts to prevent and mitigate future crises. Given this fact, and the opportunity that the EU Green Recovery Plan presents, there is a need to ensure this progress is maintained and strengthened in the recovery phase.

The Policy Hub’s proposal for the EU, which WWF contributed to, is organized into seven key principles, which aim to help drive a greener recovery within the textile, apparel and footwear industry:

1.    Make short-term government support conditional on green engagement and commitments;
2.    Provide tailored support for Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) with circular business models;
3.    Redirect consumer demand towards greener choices and circularity;
4.    Support innovative low-carbon activities;
5.    Accelerate circularity by scaling up technologies and setting-up infrastructure for collection, sorting, reuse and high-value recycling;
6.    Increase transparency to accelerate the transition towards circularity and empower consumers; and
7.    Foster circular design and a more sustainable material mix.

WWF broadly supports the call for short- and long-term instruments in the recovery of the economy. But WWF would stress that any stimulus investments must be spent in line with Europe’s environmental and climate objectives, by ensuring that:
  1. At least 50 percent of recovery funds are invested in environmentally sustainable activities;
  2. Investments will not support environmentally harmful activities; and
  3. Projects will deliver social benefits through a ‘just transition’ for all.
In particular for the textile sector, it is of equal importance that EU support to third countries adheres to the same principles as in Europe. In many cases, production is done abroad and it is just as necessary to protect ecosystems in producing countries, such as China, India, Pakistan, Turkey and Viet Nam.

WWF has been a driving force behind corporate water stewardship over the past decade. We have partnered with numerous companies to transform their water management and reduce pollution, including global textile and apparel companies, as well as local companies along supply chains from China to India and Turkey.

WWF expects that the COVID-19 recovery plans will strengthen the progress of recent decades in water stewardship and in addressing climate change, air and water pollution, ecosystem degradation and other environmental challenges.

WWF’s full recommendations for a more sustainable recovery are outlined in this report: “Building Resilience: WWF Recommendations for a just & sustainable recovery after Covid-19”.
Textile factory improving sustainability through water stewardship
© Justin Jin / WWF-US
Water stewardship in textile industry can help enhance the health of river basins across the world
© Cenk Oruc