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Last Wednesday, 2 September stakeholders representing six leading industry associations and interest organisations and three companies working within the apparel and footwear sector came together to virtually discuss extended producer responsibility, or what is commonly known in EU policy circles, as EPR. The second discussion of this nature to take place this year, this particular meeting focused on two key points that surfaced during the January meeting: eco-modulation of fees and how to ensure a fair share of financial and organisational responsibilities between stakeholders.

The European Union has previously adopted an obligation for the separate collection of textile waste by 2025 and EPR is considered a critical component towards achieving this goal. Combined with the upcoming consultation on the future EU Textile Strategy, DG ENV has previously confirmed their plans to deliver a document outlining guidelines on the minimum requirements of the EPR asset(listed in Art 8a of the Waste Framework Directive). This is expected to be published later this fall. As of now, France has already implemented an EPR scheme for textiles and is planning to extend it to other product categories, such as sporting goods. 

Harmonisation is essential

How to best define and allocate responsibilities amongst actors kicked off the 2 September discussion. Questions of what constitutes a sustainable product to establishing measurement criteria and methods (i.e. durability, repairability) to verification processes were all brought to the fore. Acknowledging that no ‘one size fits all’ is feasible for each Member State, participants discussed how they might incentivise effective practices that can still meet the individual needs of the different Member States. 

Define eco-modulation criteria

To help distinguish the different types of products within the value chain, participants identified the need for more fact-based evidence to push the agenda forward. They agreed that eco-modulation can provide an incentive for sustainable or circular design to effectively drive change and discussed the different possible measurement criteria, methods and verification processes.

Waste hierarchy

Another key topic focused on waste and the need to finance and invest in technologies for waste classification as well as for high-value recycling. By emphasising the need to support innovation, participants identified sorting and recycling technologies along with new business models as priorities together with increased consumer awareness. 

Conclusion

Questions on pending issues, such as how to best inform consumers of the EPR costs and what is financed through them so as to provide future incentivisation will be addressed in the upcoming weeks. A follow-up workshop is currently being considered.

ABOUT THE POLICY HUB 

Launched in May 2019 by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry, Global Fashion Agenda and their members, The Policy Hub – Circularity for Apparel and Footwear aims to unite the textiles industry and its stakeholders in developing and promoting a unified European policy framework that accelerates the transition to a circular system for the apparel and footwear industry. Between them, the three organisations represent more than 300 brands, retailers, manufacturers and other stakeholders.