A new paper, “A Zero Waste Vision for Fashion”, by ZWE calls for a ban on the destruction of unsold textile goods, targets on waste prevention and resource use, and financial incentives for producers.
The paper also says governments shouldn’t rely on consumer behaviour “nudges” to reduce fashion consumption and must address the fast fashion business model.
ZWE’s paper suggests setting a target for textile waste reduction of one-third by 2040 in comparison to 2020. It also calls on the EU to transform its waste legislation into a “Resource Framework Directive” in line with a 1.5-degree target.
The paper recommends three interventions for policymakers, which include enforcing legal frameworks, driving change through financial incentives, and spreading awareness about the wardrobe sufficiency.
ZWE says extended producer responsibility (EPR) for textiles promotes prevention, repair, and reuse as well as imposing environmental taxes on virgin materials – particularly virgin plastics.
The cause of our current waste crisis lies with the fast fashion business model that relies on selling large volumes of trendy items.
However, ZWE says that “without engendering a culture of sufficiency” through measures such as restricting fast fashion advertisements and making repair and reuse more attractive for consumers and businesses, the transition to a circular economy cannot succeed.
Theresa Mörsen, author of the report and Waste & Resources Policy Officer at ZWE, commented: “We cannot rely on so-called consumer behaviour ‘nudges’ to cut down on fashion consumption.
“The cause of our current waste crisis lies with the fast fashion business model that relies on selling large volumes of trendy items. We must have a robust regulatory framework that allows consumers to live well – and dress well – within planetary boundaries.
“While the textile sector’s transformation is a critical milestone. It’s important to recognise that it’s only part of a broader economic shift toward sufficiency, well-being, and resilience.”