Textiles and the Environment – The Role of Design in Europe’s Circular Economy

Over the coming decade, Europe will face the double challenge of tackling environmental and climate impacts while at the same time recovering from the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. From a European consumption perspective, textiles have on average the fourth highest negative life cycle impact on the environment and climate change – after food, housing and mobility. The 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) of the European Commission has identified textiles as a key product value chain. A comprehensive EU Strategy for Textiles to be released in 2022 aims at strengthening industrial competitiveness and innovation in the sector, boosting the EU market for sustainable and circular textiles (including the market for textile reuse), addressing the effects of fast fashion, and driving new business models.

Circular design is key for a successful shift to a circular textiles production and consumption system. The aim of this report is to contribute to the implementation of the EU Strategy for Textiles and the EU Sustainable Product Initiative through an improved understanding of the environmental impacts from textiles. The report identifies design principles and measures as well as policy and consumers behaviour enablers for realising the full potential of circularity in textiles.