- Europe and Central Asia
Sectors of activity
Consumer Goods, Waste, incl. Chemicals, Public Procurement
Type of initiative
Policy Frameworks & Tools
Type of lead actor
Government / public sector
The transition to a more circular economy is an essential contribution to develop a sustainable, low carbon, resource efficient and competitive economy in the EU. In a circular economy the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of waste is minimised.
Mandatory or voluntary ecodesign criteria can be used to set minimum standards for circualrity and material efficiency. However, they have so far mostly been used in the context of improving energy efficiency and not material efficiency.
The objectives of this initiative was to develop a first set of ecodesign criteria for textiles and furniture with a focus on circularity, to demonstrate how ecodesign criteria can be utilised for non-energy using products. The approach is considered as a useful input to development of material efficiency ecodesign criteria in the European Commission.
Potential Ecodesign requirements for durability, reusability, reparability, recyclability and use of recycled material in textiles were developed via the following activities:
1. Establishing a cross-disciplinary team comprising Nordic experts on circularity in textiles, on development of ecodesign criteria for other product types and on the EU Ecodesign Directive
2. Defining the scope for textiles that should be considered - this followed the scope of other Nordic textiles projects and focussed on clothing and household textiles
3. Literature review and internal workshop - the review focused on material efficiiency and circularity in textiles and other products, and criteria found in Ecolabels for textiles such as the EU Ecolabel and the Nordic Swan, plus Green Pulic Procurement criteria for textiles.
4. First draft requirements - these were developed with a basis on the principles of circularity with inspiration also taken from ecolabel criteria.
5. Stakeholder consultation - experts from leading brands and industry associations were gathered at a workshop in Copenhagen to discuss and improve the formulation of ecodesign requirements.
6. Qualitative environmental assessment - was carried out to estimate the potential environmental benefits of the proposed criteria if these were adopted at EU level
7. Preparation of final ecodesign requirements - a final set of requirements were developed based on the inputs from the expert workshop
Following the development of requirements for textiles, a similar though less intensive approach was applied to furniture to develop a very first set of criteria/requirements for these products
Impact and Results
The result is a set of 15 ecodesign criteria for textile products gathered under four themes: durability, reparability, recyclability, recycled content.
The criteria include those based on minimum thresholds - for example a minimum number of times a zip can be zipped before it fails, or a minimum content of recycled material - and on mandatory provision of information - i.e. the need to provide a full bill of materials, to announce recycled content and to provide care and maintenance guidance that increase durability.
For threshold-based criteria, the value of thresholds have not yet been set. This would need to be the subject of intensive dialogue between policy makers and industry that strike a balance between ambition for circularity improvements and the costs of meeting the minimum standards. Rolling thresholds that become more strict over time are envisaged. In some cases thresholds will need to differ between different fibre types.
Testing and documentation standards exist for most of the proposed requirements but would need to be developed for a criterion on ease of disassembly.
If the criteria were adopted at EU level an upper limit for the greenhouse gas savings of the set of proposed requirements was estimated at 85 million tonnes CO2-equiv. per year. The achieved benefits will depend on levels set for threshold requirements and responses to infromation declarations.
A “light application” of the criteria development methodology was applied to furniture that included 7 criteria.
Next steps and how to get involved
The proposed Ecodesign criteria for furniture and textiles now need to be taken forward by government and industry.
If you are a policy maker or representative of an industry association in textiles or furniture sector then read the Policy Brief to gain inspiration for potential criteria - and the main report of you need more information. Engage other stakeholders in dialogue on how these criteria can be implemented, and on the setting of thresholds under each of the 14 criteria for textiles and the 7 criteria for furniture.
Contact David Watson at PlanMiljø firstname.lastname@example.org for more information