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Greener, easier to repair EU products on the way: Barry Andrews MEP welcomes new EU ban on destruction of unsold clothing and footwear

DATE Barry Andrews MEP has welcomed new EU rules to make products easier to repair and recycle. Negotiators have agreed on an update to the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), meaning that a crackdown on fast fashion, and a ban on the destruction of unsold clothes and footwear is imminent.


The rules aim to improve the lifecycle of products to make them more durable and easier to repair and recycle. Several products will be prioritised by the European Commission in its first working plan, for example, textiles, detergents, paints, and iron.


Commenting on the new rules, Barry Andrews MEP said, “This new regulation is badly needed and serves as a particular reminder in the lead up to Christmas. We know that at this time of the year, many people will be receiving a new smart phone or unpacking their Christmas haul from SHEIN. The Environmental Protection Agency states that around 110,000 tonnes of textiles are discarded as waste every year in Ireland.1 Not only this, but Ireland one of the biggest per capita consumers of textiles in Europe at 53kg per person per year. This is well above the European average of 26kg per person.”2


“For the past year in the European Parliament, I have been working on this topic of sustainability and due diligence, helping to create legislation and implement laws to tackle unethical supply chains. As a co-negotiator for the EU’s proposed Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence as well as the EU’s Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles, I have been engaging with textile and technology companies, asking them what they are doing to ensure that their products are produced in a sustainable and safe way.”


A key part of the new regulation are “digital product passports”. These will provide consumers and repair shops with information about almost every product placed on the EU market, including smartphones, textiles and dishwashers.3

A total ban on the destruction of unsold clothes and footwear will apply two years after the law enters into force. Small and microenterprises are exempt from the law, in line with the polluter pays principle. The European Commission will also have the power to extend the ban to other unsold products beyond clothing and footwear.


Large companies will have to report annually the quantities of products they discarded as well as their reasons why. Barry Andrews MEP said, “This regulation marks an important step towards the aim of making sustainable products the norm. It is far too easy nowadays to dispose of products, consumers need to have peace of mind that what they are purchasing can be easily repaired and recycled”.


Andrews added, “I believe this law is proportionate – it will ensure that those who pollute the most pay the price, while ensuring that our local and independent Irish businesses can flourish. I would like to see a new market for upcycling services emerge as a result, such as repair cafés across Dublin.

The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) will now need the European Parliament and Council to formally approve the agreement before it can come into force.

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