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EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles – an opportunity for organic textiles?

The EU Commission has recently published the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles. This offers the ambitious vision that in only eight years, by 2030, textile products on the EU market will be long-lived, free of hazardous substances and produced respecting the environment and social rights. The vision is for consumers to benefit from high quality affordable textiles; for fast fashion to be out of fashion; and for producers to take responsibility for their products along the value chain. 

GOTS welcomes the vision and believes that organic textile products are a natural fit for the Strategy. However, the organic opportunity is overlooked. 

The strategy reveals that 39% of sustainability claims could be false or deceptive, and proposes that claims such as ‘green’, ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘good for the environment’ should be underpinned by recognised excellence in environmental performance. It also states that voluntary sustainability labels covering environmental or social criteria must be based on third party verification. Organic textiles are good for the environment being a well justified eco-friendly and green claim based on excellence in environmental performance. 

So, what is the scope for ensuring that organic textiles will take their place within the EU strategy for sustainable textiles? 

GOTS provides a robust sustainability standard for organic textiles, based on the use of organically farmed natural fibres. Synthetic pesticides, fertilisers and genetically modified seeds are prohibited on organic farms, which are sustainable by definition. In the manufacturing of textile products, GOTS ensures sustainability by prohibiting the use of hazardous dyes and chemicals, requiring water treatment, and including clear social criteria based on the ILO norms. Organic textiles are underpinned by excellence in environmental and social performance based on third party verification. 

Organic textiles certified to GOTS clearly meet the strategic vision and the recommendations of the EU Strategy. GOTS looks forward to the review of the EU Textile Labelling Regulation by the EU Commission foreseen in the strategy. GOTS calls for reference to ‘organic textiles’ as a clearly defined term in this Regulation. We have repeatedly suggested this way forward to the Commission, with the publication of the EU Textile Strategy there is a real impetus to do this. The inclusion of the organic textile label in the Textile Labelling Regulation will support the delivery of the Strategy and provide the basis for further development of the market for organic textiles.