EU Country-Specific Fashion & Textile Regulations in 2024

June 11, 2024

A deep dive into individual EU legislation compliance

According to Euratex, the European fashion legislation landscape is shaped by 16 main textile & fashion regulations affecting how national and international fashion brands and manufacturers operate along their supply chain. While many regulations apply across the EU, some are specific to individual countries.

France is leading, with 4 regulations impacting the textile industry. Today we shed light on each country-specific regulation and how fashion companies can comply with them.

Austria: Supply Chain Act

Status: Proposal

In June 2023, Austria proposed a Supply Chain Act to the National Council, aiming to uphold human rights, labor rights, animal welfare, and environmental standards across supply chains, including domestic production.

The proposal is under review by the Committee on Economic Affairs, Industry & Energy, with a report expected in 2024. Though details are pending, the Act emphasizes comprehensive documentation and transparent disclosure of production processes, including transportation.

Source: Austrian Parliament

Belgium: Value Chain Duty of Vigilance & Responsibility Law

Status: Proposal

The Belgian government is considering legislation to mandate corporate due diligence and responsibility across value chains. This law aims to compel businesses to identify and mitigate social and environmental impacts, publicly report on their efforts, and address risks. 

Targeting large companies, public interest entities in finance, and small to medium-sized businesses in high-risk sectors or regions, compliance may raise costs and non-compliance could lead to penalties and reputational harm. Smaller businesses collaborating with obligated entities will also feel the impact as they must meet due diligence standards.

Source: Belgium Chamber

Finland: Decree on Textile Waste

Status: Adopted

In 2021, Finland introduced a law mandating municipalities to separate collection of textiles starting January 2023. Municipalities are responsible for managing household textiles, similar to other waste.

The law requires separately collected textile waste to undergo processing, reuse or high-quality mechanical recycling. Additionally, businesses producing textile waste must also separate their waste.

As this law primarily affects municipalities, it will impact organizations contracted for waste collection by local governments. Existing contractors may face additional requirements, while new opportunities may arise for waste collection entities to assist municipalities. Consequently, textile collection and treatment systems will need to expand to handle increased material volumes.

Source: Zero Waste Europe 

France: Duty of Vigilance Law

Status: Adopted

In 2017, France introduced the Duty of Vigilance Law, compelling large corporations to uphold corporate social responsibility through due diligence. This law mandates companies to annually create, publish, and implement a vigilance plan, which involves identifying, preventing, and mitigating human rights and environmental risks. It requires assessing supply chains, subsidiaries, and subcontractors for risk mapping, collecting data on risks, and taking action to mitigate them.

The law applies to French businesses with at least 5,000 employees including subsidiaries and to companies with a HQ in France or abroad with a minimum of 10,000 employees. Compliance may raise operational costs, and non-compliance can lead to fines of up to 10 million euros and reputational damage.

Source: LegiFrance

France: Waste & Circular Economy Law (AGEC)

Status: Adopted

France's journey toward textile circular economy legislation started in 2007 with the French Environmental Code (Law L541-10), launching the first Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme. This initiative aimed to enhance textile management, influencing design, waste prevention, and end-of-life strategies. Producers financed collection and treatment, supporting reuse, recycling, and research.

In February 2022, the Law on the Fight against Waste and the Circular Economy (AGEC Law) revised the EPR legislation to foster a sustainable textile sector. It promoted Ecodesign, expanded collection, funded sorting, and encouraged reuse, repair, and recycling. The AGEC Law set ambitious waste diversion targets.

This law has diverse impacts in France:

  • Textile businesses face eco-design mandates, unsold stock management, and higher waste management costs
  • Waste management requires enhanced capacity to meet targets
  • Technology providers may find increased demand for circular solutions
  • Packaging manufacturers must align with recycling goals
  • The repair sector may thrive due to the repair fund

Read more here: How fashion brands can comply with AGEC

France: Law relating to Consumer Information on the Environmental Qualities and Characteristics of Waste-Generating Products

Status: Adopted

Decree No. 2022-748, enacted on April 29, 2022, ensures transparency in consumer products' environmental attributes, including textiles. It mandates producers, importers, and distributors to disclose details like recyclability and hazardous substances.

The decree introduces a phased implementation based on turnover and product units and prohibits misleading environmental claims on packaging. By providing electronic access to environmental information during purchases, the legislation aims to empower consumers and holds textile stakeholders responsible for accurate information, prompting supply chain diligence and reporting mechanisms.

Source: Ecologie France

France: Penalty for Ultra-Fast Fashion Products

Status: Proposal

France has proposed groundbreaking legislation to address the environmental impact of fast fashion by introducing a surcharge tied to the ecological footprint of these items. Starting at 5 Euros per item in the coming year, the fee will increase to 10 Euros by 2030, capped at 50% of the item's selling price. The bill also seeks to prohibit advertising for ultra-fast fashion products.

Fast fashion companies and consumers will be affected by the surcharge, with France using criteria such as production volume and turnover speed to define fast fashion. The bill unanimously passed France's lower house of Parliament on March 14, 2024, marking a significant step toward addressing the excesses of ultra-fast fashion. The legislation will now proceed to the Senate for further consideration.

Source: France 24

Germany: Act on Corporate Due Diligence Obligations in Supply Chains

Status: Adopted

The Corporate Due Diligence Obligations in Supply Chains, or Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz (LkSG), came into force in January 2023, following its enactment in June 2021. It requires companies to conduct due diligence to prevent human rights and environmental abuses in their supply chains, including child labor, forced labor, modern slavery, discrimination, and environmental violations.

Key obligations include establishing a risk management system, designating responsible personnel, conducting regular risk analyses, communicating human rights policies, implementing preventive measures, addressing violations, setting up a complaints procedure, and reporting due diligence data to authorities.

Initially targeting companies with at least 3,000 employees, this Act will expand to those with 1,000 employees from 2024. While smaller companies are not directly affected, they may be indirectly impacted if they supply obligated companies operating in Germany or internationally.

Source: Bundesamt Germany

Greece: Integrated Framework for Waste Management

Status: Adopted

In 2021, Greece introduced the Integrated Framework for Waste Management in line with EU directives. This legislation includes two key textile provisions:

  1. A ban on textile landfilling from 2024
  2. The requirement for textile Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) by the end of 2023, overseeing separate collection as per EU directives

Details on the textile EPR policy remain unclear, but its introduction is expected to increase separately collected textile waste, necessitating expanded collection and treatment capacities. This presents challenges and opportunities for businesses to develop infrastructure and markets. The landfill ban will push textile collectors to seek alternative end markets like reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing.

Source: Greek Parliament

Italy: Textile Extended Producer Responsibility Decree

Status: Proposal

In February 2023, Italy's Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security (MASE) announced a draft decree for textile Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Key points include:

  • Producers will fund and manage textile waste collection, recycling, and recovery
  • They can establish collective or individual waste management systems
  • A financial and organizational framework will ensure nationwide collection
  • An environmental contribution payment will be required
  • Manufacturers must prioritize Ecodesign, including using eco-friendly materials and ensuring durability
  • Advanced recycling technologies will be supported
  • The Coordination Centre for Textile Recycling will oversee management systems

While details are forthcoming, the draft implies manufacturers must meet Ecodesign standards. The environmental contribution payment likely falls on producers, who must establish waste collection systems for compliance.

Source: Governo Italiano

Get in touch with our Italian Sustainability Success Team here!

Netherlands: Extended Producer Responsibility for Textiles

Status: Adopted

The Decree on Extended Producer Responsibility for Textiles took effect on July 1, 2023, making producers and importers of clothing and textiles accountable for product waste in the Dutch market.

The scheme covers newly manufactured consumer clothing, workwear, corporate wear, and household linen. Key goals include achieving at least 50% reuse and recycling by 2025, with at least 20% reuse, 10% reuse in the Netherlands, and 25% fiber-to-fiber recycling. By 2030, targets aim for at least 75% reuse and recycling, including 25% reuse, 15% reuse in the Netherlands, and 33% fiber-to-fiber recycling.

Producers must establish separate collection systems, finance them, and ensurethe recycling and reuse of collected textiles. Implementation will necessitate the growth of textile collection and treatment systems to meet reuse and recycling targets, involving collection organizations, sorting businesses, domestic reuse ventures, and recyclers.

Source: Stichting UPV Textiel

Netherlands: Responsible & Sustainable Business Act

Status: Proposal

In March 2021, the Netherlands introduced the Act for Responsible and Sustainable Business Conduct, aligning with the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive and Dutch parliamentary changes. The bill requires EU-based companies to conduct due diligence if their activities or business relationships could harm human rights or the environment outside the Netherlands.

Companies must take measures to prevent, mitigate, or remedy such impacts, including terminating activities if mitigation is insufficient. Key concerns encompass various areas such as labor rights, environmental protection, and animal welfare.

While the bill is still under negotiation, it currently suggests that all companies aware of potential harm from their operations or supply chain activities could be affected. Implementing the necessary compliance systems may lead to increased costs, especially for smaller businesses, while non-compliance could result in penalties and reputational harm.

Source: Tweedekamer

Norway: Transparency Act

Status: Adopted

In June 2021, Norway enacted the Transparency Act to ensure human rights and decent working conditions in business operations, requiring companies to conduct regular due diligence assessments and report publicly.

Key requirements include identifying and assessing negative impacts on human rights and working conditions, implementing measures to prevent or mitigate these impacts, and communicating with stakeholders about issue resolution. The Act applies to Norwegian-registered businesses or those offering goods and services in Norway, including foreign entities taxed in Norway, meeting certain criteria.

Compliance may increase operational costs, and non-compliance can result in penalties, including fines and relationship termination with non-compliant suppliers. Smaller businesses collaborating with obligated entities must also meet these due diligence requirements.

Source: Forbrukertilsynet

Spain: Law on Waste for a Circular Economy

Status: Adopted

Spain's Law on Waste and Contaminated Soils for a Circular Economy came into force in October 2022, aligning with the EU's 2018 Waste Framework Directive to promote circular economy principles and protect marine environments.

Key provisions for textiles include:

  • Granting government authority to ban unsold textile disposal, except for consumer protection
  • Requiring separate textile collection systems by January 1, 2025
  • Setting targets for municipal waste reuse and recycling, including textiles, up to 65% by 2035
  • Establishing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for textiles within 3 years

These measures will increase separately collected textile waste, demanding expanded infrastructure. While details on the textile EPR policy are pending, major Spanish retailers have formed the Association for Textile Waste Management (SCRAP) voluntarily. Their effectiveness and future EU directives will shape EPR development.

Source: BOE

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Sweden: Extended Producer Responsibility for Textiles

Status: Adopted

In December 2020, Sweden announced plans for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for textiles to improve environmental outcomes and hold producers accountable for waste management costs. Originally set for implementation on January 1, 2022, recent updates suggest ongoing preparations, raising doubts about the initial timeline.

The scheme will cover all clothing, household textiles, bags, and accessories, aiming to reduce waste disposal by 70% by 2028, 80% by 2032, and 90% by 2036. It also aims for 90% of collected textile waste to be prepared for reuse or recycling from 2028 onwards. Consumer communications will promote behavior change, focusing on waste prevention and environmental awareness.

Starting in 2024, designated textile producers must establish licensed collection systems accessible to all citizens and businesses generating textile waste, notifying the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. Producers, whether in Sweden or selling to Swedish households, must ensure sufficient collection points for reuse and recycling preparation. Citizens and businesses are obliged to use these systems for textile waste disposal.

Source: Scienceparkboras

Sweden: VAT Reduction on Repair

Status: Adopted

In 2016, Sweden introduced a law reducing the Value Added Tax (VAT) on repair services for items such as clothing, footwear, and household linen from 25% to 12%. This initiative aimed to encourage the use of repair services instead of discarding damaged products and purchasing new ones.

In 2022, the VAT was further reduced to 6%, but it was subsequently reverted to 12% in 2023. Businesses offering repair services are most likely to experience the impact of these VAT adjustments if consumers increase their engagement with these services.

Source: Regeringen

How to comply with EU fashion regulations

Fashion companies can comply with legislation by implementing sustainable practices and conducting due diligence as requested by European governments. Through incorporating sustainable materials and Ecodesign principles circular economy and environmental regulations can be met. Leveraging technology and collaborating within the industry also play significant roles in compliance.

That’s why we have built a SaaS sustainability measurement platform to meet fashion & textile companies' needs for impact reduction and legislation compliance based on data collaboration between fashion brands and suppliers. Our software:

  • enables companies to access their real-time sustainability performances
  • streamlines data exchange between brands and suppliers
  • automates environmental impact assessments and reporting
  • supports fashion companies in legislation compliance
  • facilitates the adoption of Ecodesign and green procurement practices by localizing hotspots for environmental impact reduction

We make sustainability data measurement, hitting climate targets and legislation compliance simple & effective by enabling a data ecosystem between fashion brands and manufacturers. Scientific frameworks like Product Life Cycle Assessments unlock actionable insights into impact reduction and enable decision-making at every supply chain step. By adopting these measures, fashion companies can ensure compliance with regulations while promoting sustainability and ethical practices.

Ready to get EU fashion legislation compliant? Get in touch with our expert team here!

Katharina Lahner
Together with the Sustainability Success Team of Sustainable Brand Platform, Katharina is communicating the importance of data and collaboration in the fashion industry; matching the industry's needs for minimizing its environmental impacts with SBP's fashion-specific SaaS solutions.

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