The Policy Hub says the principles should serve as a roadmap to ensure economic recovery while also driving the development towards a circular economy

The Policy Hub says the principles should serve as a roadmap to ensure economic recovery while also driving the development towards a circular economy

Three leading apparel organisations have outlined seven key measures they believe are necessary for a green recovery of the European clothing and footwear industry over the next one to five years.

The 'Proposal for an EU Green Recovery Plan in the Textile, Apparel and Footwear Industry' has been developed by the Policy Hub – which was launched in May by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) and Global Fashion Agenda (GFA). Between them, the three organisations represent more than 300 brands, retailers, manufacturers and other stakeholders.

Its latest paper, produced in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), suggests EU policymakers consider the seven key principles to ensure economic recovery in the EU as well driving the development of a circular economy.

The short- and long-term measures combine direct financial support, incentive-based policy instruments and legislation. "On the one hand, the next wave of short-term government support should target liquidity and solvency concerns of companies with fiscal measures incentivising engagement in circularity while continuing to support the recovery of the sector. 

"On the other hand, this proposal calls for legislative measures and investments in green projects required now to achieve real progress in the medium to long term. This should ensure that pre-crisis ambition will be maintained and that efforts are stepped up in selected areas."

Short-term measures (next 12 months):

  • Leveraging short-term government support to drive green engagement and commitments such as through conditional loans;
  • Providing tailored support for companies linked to the circular economy, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises potentially through increased EU funding to support re-skilling;
  • Encouraging a shift in demand towards greener choices and circularity through potential incentives for VAT reduction for circular business models.

Medium to long-term measures (within five years):

  • Supporting innovative low-carbon activities in accelerating the renewable energy market in Europe;
  • Accelerating circularity by helping to scale up technologies and to establish infrastructure for collection, sorting, reuse and high-value recycling for example through harmonising end-of-waste criteria;
  • Fostering circular design and a more sustainable material mix, by defining what a circular and sustainable product are;
  • Incentivising increased transparency to accelerate the transition towards circularity and empowering the consumer for example through a public-private partnership to provide technological infrastructure.

"The seven key principles the Policy Hub has developed offer a strong foundation for the development of the EU Green Economic Recovery Plan. Based on industry expertise, these short and medium-term measures can effectively guide a robust legislative agenda that drives true sustainable change. The measures, if enacted, will promote more resilient supply chains and help address the current crisis and the ongoing climate crisis," says Amina Razvi, executive director of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

Looking beyond the EU, an essential part of the work should be addressing the impact of the pandemic on producing countries by working with industry organisations and other key stakeholders to develop broad-based approaches.

"The European Commission should continue their dialogue and trade agreements in affected countries with the local companies and governments to identify what type of support is most needed, provide support where possible and jointly work towards the ambition of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Furthermore, it should be discussed how long-term partnerships with brands and manufacturers could be incentivised to help enable the industry to utilise the recovery to build these long-term relationships resulting in mutual trust and empowered workplaces."

The Policy Hub's proposal is based on inputs and discussions with its partners and key stakeholders.

It follows the launch of a new pledge by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) this week, which sees signatories commit to accelerating the transition to a circular economy as part of an economic recovery from Covid-19 that helps to address other global challenges, including climate change, waste and pollution.

Click here to read the Policy Hub's proposal in full.