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Image: Vetements

On the heels of the French government signing off on a sweeping new bill that aims to dramatically cut down on the nation’s waste, including by barring the destruction of an array of different types of unsold goods, including unsold fashion items, the European Union as a whole has adopted a new plan that will see the 27-member bloc cut its waste in half by 2030, with provisions aimed at addressing  climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation. Just as in the French law, the handling of unwanted textiles will be of significant importance for the EU. 

Part of the EU’s existing LIFE program, the funding instrument for environmental and climate action created in 1992, the newly announced LIFE Integrated Project initiative consists of “large-scale projects” that will be carried out in Cyprus, Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Slovakia, Czechia and Spain, with the Greece-specific project focusing exclusively on “managing waste for a circular economy,” the European Commission revealed in a statement on Monday.

Given that “a large proportion of waste in Greece still goes to landfills,” including as much as 70 percent of municipal waste, the European Commission says that the project endeavors to significantly reduce this by “promoting waste prevention and reuse through a number of measures,” ultimately aiming to “increase the amount of waste prepared for reuse and recycling by at least 55 percent.” 

In accordance with the new initiative in Greece, the Commission says that it will present consumer-facing activities devoted to “prolonging the life of products, and encouraging consumers to seek repairs,” in order to further reduce outright waste. 

As for businesses in Greece, while its textiles and clothing production has fluctuated significantly in recent years, trending downwards in light of competition from predominately Southeast Asian nation manufacturing capitals, the country maintains a steady textile manufacturing sector, namely as a result of its position as the EU’s main cotton grower, accounting for more than 80 percent of total European production as of 2018. With this in mind, and given the waste-heavy nature of textile manufacturing, particularly the production of landfill-destined waste, the Commission states that the project will also develop “new waste indicators and standards to help build the circular economy in Greece.”

As a whole, the LIFE Integrated Project, for which  €101.2 million in funding has been set aside, will support the soon to be introduced European Green Deal, and “the EU’s ambition of becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050.” The European Commission is slated to reveal an even larger endeavor, its circular economy plan, on March 10, along with a new EU industrial strategy.