Policy Initiatives for Circular Systems

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Circular fashion’ is now customary in fashion’s sustainability lexicon. At its core, a circular fashion system means flipping the script on the conventional ‘take, make, dispose’ fashion model and imagines a world in which all garments are continuously recycled, reused or biodegraded or composted back into our earth.

As circular fashion trends continue to gain traction, policy can play an important role in incentivising the concept on a greater scale and unlocking the full potential of a circular fashion economy.

The current overarching policy framework on circularity at the EU level is set by the EU’s 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan under which falls the EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles adopted on 30 March 2022. The Strategy creates a framework for different pieces of legislation to be prepared and enforced. In line with our partner the Policy Hub’s position on the EU Textiles Strategy, the strategy creates a framework clarifying how the horizontal EU initiatives impacting the textiles sector will tie together to accelerate circularity. Some of its actions impacting this priority include:

  • Upskilling and reskilling the workforce through the EU Pact for Skills
  • Leveraging digital technology through a new process of co-creation with stakeholders kicked off in the second quarter of 2022: the Transition Pathway for the Textiles Ecosystem
  • Actions on waste (announced in the Annex of the EU Strategy for Circular Textiles – Document 2) including Extended Producer Responsibility requirements for textiles as of 2023 and the launch of the work on the setting of preparing for re-use and recycling targets for textiles (2022)
  • Funding opportunities and guidance to enable the transition

Design for a circular economy is also at the forefront of policy developments with another initiative published alongside the strategy: the Regulation on Ecodesign for Sustainable products. Through this, the Commission plans to develop binding product-specific requirements to increase textiles’ performance in terms of durability, reusability, reparability, fibre-to-fibre recyclability and mandatory recycled fibre content. The EU Commission’s approach towards product-specific requirements, as noted in the Policy Hub’s position on Ecodesign for sustainable products, will allow for tailored measures that consider the nature and specificities of textiles.

Based on the invaluable learnings from the Circular Fashion Partnership, Global Fashion Agenda has also developed a Policy Brief on scaling circularity in garment manufacturing countries, such as Bangladesh. The Policy Brief provides in-depth recommendations to policymakers at a regional or national level in manufacturing countries, such as Bangladesh, whilst also providing recommendations to EU and international policymakers. The Policy Brief can be read in full here.

Download The GFA Monitor to learn more here


Global Fashion Agenda is one of the five members of the Steering Committee of the Policy Hub – Circularity for Apparel and Footwear. Our position papers and related advocacy actions can be found at www.policyhub.org

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