The EU’s Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) system needs a few Tweaks!

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One of the most challenging issues within the textile industry is the unsustainable mass production of synthetic fibres which feed constantly changing fashions and subsequently leads to pollution associated with a build-up of unwanted textiles. One of the aims of the EU in developing the PEF system was to reduce pollution, and make the textile industry more sustainable. As the PEF system is used by consumers along with producers it has potential to provide a powerful influence in steering the textile sector down a more sustainable pathway. The only snag is, according to findings outlined in the New White Paper (1, 2) PEF falls short. This is because when it comes to comparing textiles made from synthetic fibres compared with textiles made from natural fibres, the PEF fails to distinguish adequately between their impacts on the environment and as a result, runs counter to the aim of the EU:

 “The problem with the European Commission’s proposal is that the methodology they plan to use to measure environmental impacts of clothing – the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) – is incomplete. It currently downplays or excludes critical environmental impacts and does not reflect the EU’s own sustainability and circularity goals.”  (3)