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[Textile industry] Navigating EU and global textile labeling regulations

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In this era of heightened environmental awareness and climate legislation, fashion and textile brands are increasingly under the microscope when it comes to their climate and sustainability practices. To address this, nations and regions are introducing a web of intricate textile labeling laws, each with its own set of standards and regulations.

In our previous blogs, we explored sustainability regulations relevant to the fashion industry in the United States and the European Union. In this overview, we’ll delve into the top apparel labeling regulations impacting fashion and textile brands around the world. There’s a lot here, so if you have any questions about staying compliant in a global marketplace, please reach out to our team.

European Union Textile Labeling Regulations

In the EU, there are four main pieces of legislation that will impact textile labeling: the EU Textile Labeling Regulation, the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), the Directive on Green Claims, and the French Climate and Resilience Law. The EU has also proposed a framework for helping companies track their environmental footprint, the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and the Organization Environmental Footprint (OEF).

(Click here for a quick primer on how EU legislation works.)

  • The EU Textile Labeling Regulation mandates that textile labels must include information about fiber composition, the country origin, and, of course, care instructions. It is currently being revised to include additional sustainability and circularity parameters. We will provide updates once further information comes available.
  • While the ESPR is focused on changing how fashion and textile brands manufacture products, it also introduces a Digital Product Passport. The ESPR is still a proposal, but if implemented, brands will need to provide a machine-readable passport (such as a QR code) that lists a product’s carbon footprint, percentage of recycled content, and its circularity.  
  • The anticipated EU Directive on Green Claims will provide stringent rules on the environmental information listed on product labels and advertisements. While still in proposal form, fashion and textile brands should prepare for it, as similar legislation is already active in France.
  • The EU’s Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) applies to a range of sectors, from electronics to energy production. Because of the fashion and textile industry’s expansive environmental footprint, a working group has developed a specific framework for lifecycle assessment and labeling. The goal is to create a consistent method of environmental labeling, enabling both consumers and companies to make informed decisions. The PEFCRs for Apparel and Footwear is expected to be released in Q4 of 2024.
  • The French Climate and Resilience Law will require fashion and textile brands to list detailed environmental and social reporting on labels. While the final labeling methodology has yet to be released, it is expected to be based on or similar to the forthcoming European Union PEF. 

As you can see, even within just the European Union, there is already a myriad of reporting and labeling requirements that demand insight into the entire lifecycle of a product. Learn more about how Carbonfact can help your brand here:

 

United Kingdom Textile Labelling Regulations

The UK has adopted the Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations. This regulation was set in place while the country was still a member state of the EU. As of the time of writing, this legislation is still in line with EU regulations.

North America: Textile Labeling laws in the USA, Canada, and Mexico

Labeling requirements in the USA, Canada, and Mexico are largely focused on fiber composition, size, and country of origin. Environmental and social impact labeling is still evolving.  

In the United States, shoppers will frequently encounter environmental claims such as “eco-friendly” and “sustainable,” but there is very little regulation behind their veracity. Recently 23 signatories representing the fashion industry called for anti-greenwashing guides from the Federal Trade Commission as it updates the Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Green Guides).

Because there is so much confusion for consumers, companies with clear insight into their carbon footprint can leverage this information to their advantage.

While environmental labeling isn’t required in Canada, the country is tackling greenwashing via two pieces of legislation: the Textile Labeling Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act. These prohibit companies from making false or misleading claims and ensure that product information is verifiable.

Asia: Voluntary Ecolabeling

While Environmental labels are not currently mandatory in most Asian countries, there are over 40 voluntary “ecolabels” available.  

In addition to country-specific labels like Japan's Eco Mark and South Korea’s Green Certification, international programs such as Certified Wildlife Friendly®, Fairtrade, Global Green Tag are in use. These labels typically require adherence to rigorous environmental criteria, including responsible material sourcing, energy-efficient production methods, and reduced chemical usage.

Australia & New Zealand: Moving toward sustainability and circularity

As the world’s second largest consumer of textiles (behind the USA), Australia is working toward ending fast-fashion and improving circularity in the industry. There are currently no environmental labeling requirements, however, the Australian Fashion Council recently launched a national stewardship scheme called  Seamless. The program aims to achieve circularity by 2030 and reduce 200,000 tons of clothing waste per year. As their efforts evolve, we’ll report on how fashion brands can implement carbon management tools to stay compliant in Australia.  

In addition to the above, both Australia and New Zealand have voluntary ecolabeling programs such as Australia Made, Australia Grown, and Environmental Choice New Zealand.

How Carbonfact can help brands navigate a global landscape of regulations

Complying with both mandatory and voluntary environmental labels in a global marketplace is complex. Brands need accurate, up-to-date insights into the complete lifecycle of their product lines. Carbonfact is the only fashion-specific carbon footprint and lifecycle assessment tool that enables brands to actively measure and reduce their environmental footprint.

Get in touch with our team of climate scientists to learn how we can support your business in this evolving landscape.

 

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