Sustainability

Future Green Label Needs to Tackle Plastic Pollution


Oct 28 2020 - Under its current form, the Environmental Footprint initiative fails to fully address one of the crucial points of the environmental impact of products - plastic pollution. The negative effect of plastic pollution on humans, animals and ecosystems is not included in the PEF calculations and will not be communicated to the consumer, fear stakeholders engaging in the initiative. The European Environmental Bureau raised the issue back in 2018, after the end of the pilot phase. Currently, to measure the environmental footprint of a product from the raw material to the end-of-life, the PEF method is testing it against 16 impact categories ranging from climate change to the use of natural resources or toxicity. No category looks into whether the product causes plastic leakage. The Product Environmental Footprint initiative will pave the way for EU-wide legislation on the environmental performance of goods and organisations. The PEF profiles should enable companies to make legitimate environmental claims based upon evidence. But boiling down complex, multi-dimensional calculations to a single score that might be put on a label could turn out misleading. For example, if an essential pollutive feature of a product like plastic pollution is not considered, the information reaching the consumer will not provide a complete picture of the environmental cost of the product. Such oversimplification risks leaving consumers under the false impression that they are choosing the 'better-for-the-environment' product without knowing that some environmental impacts they care about are not considered. Failing to address the problem with plastics pollution in its major environmental initiative would undercut the Commission’s own efforts to tackle plastic waste as promised in the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Green Deal. Measuring plastics' environmental impact is typically not part of LCA assessments, because it remains challenging to track, measure and quantify the adverse effect of plastic leakage across supply chains. This means it is unlikely that plastic pollution would become an impact category before the legislation arrives. Yet, there is a solution. Plastic pollution can be included in the PEF studies under the so-called additional environmental information. Building on this information, law-makers could request that the plastic pollution risk be stated explicitly on the label alongside the PEF score. More than 5.5 million tons of synthetic microfibers have ended up in the environment since 1950 because of clothes being washed in machines, estimates researchers from Sciences et Avenir. Microplastics are found in ecosystems everywhere on the planet, and even in products for human consumption such as beer, honey and salt. Many see the involvement of consumers to be the key in the fight for a cleaner, resource-efficient, circular economy. But serving over-simplified information to consumers led by the desire to make it easy to choose the greener products carry a risk of leading to further confusion amongst consumers – a problem meant to be tackled by this environmental initiative in the first place.

Sustainability

Low-Quality Fibres Undermine Textile Recycling


Sep 15 2020 - Experts fear that low-quality textiles – not designed for circularity - will downgrade the efforts to boost textile recycling as the separate collection becomes mandatory under the updated EU Waste Directive. ‘’The obligation to separately collect textiles by 2025 will mechanically increase the supply of used textiles, shoes and accessories without addressing current issues linked to poor circular textiles’ design and low-quality materials which directly impact preparing for re-use and recycling of used textiles,’’ said from EuRic, the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation. A recently published report by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency comparing textile collection and treatment in 6 European counties estimates that over the next 5 years an additional 1.4 million tonnes non-reusable textiles will be collected annually in Europe. Once no longer in use, unwanted clothes are usually brought to at a collection point – bring banks and curbside collector, from where they are transported for industrial sorting. The best-quality garments that could be worn again are skimmed off and sent to second-hand markets for re-use. However, the global market for re-used clothing is also crumbling under the pressure of growth-obsessed fast fashion retail offering low-quality clothing. The remaining clothes, the non-wearables, are considered waste that needs to be handled. But experts suggest the technologies and systems are not advanced enough to handle such a huge amount of collected waste mainly due to the composition of our clothes. ‘’Multi-layer garments and garments with fibre blends containing three or more different fibre types are not suited for fibre-to-fibre recycling,’’ clarified from EuRic adding: ‘’The only technique for fibre-to-fibre recycling currently existing and operational on a semi-industrial level is for the cotton. For this technique, the garments have to consist currently out of 90% cotton.[..] Recycling techniques for polyester and viscose are being developed but are not on an industrial level at the moment.’’ Globally 60 % of all textiles on the market are of synthetic origin compared to only 37 % for cotton. Using raw materials deriving from fossil fuels downgrades the quality of the produced fibres, even before it reaches the end of life. Once discarded, these textiles become very difficult to recycle. ‘’In line with the waste hierarchy textiles should be re-used as much as possible before being recycled. Low-quality textiles are less suitable for re-use and therefore, less sustainable’’, explained from EuRic. For waste collectors, the textiles classified as unwearable are a burden because they can’t be sold for second-hand use and don’t bring any profit. But making recycling economically viable could be done by introducing ‘’Extended Producers Responsibility’’ – a move that the EU Commissions is set to make with the upcoming Textile Strategy. Under this scheme, the producers will be financially responsible when their products are thrown away. Currently, France is the only country with legislation that makes extended producers responsibility mandatory, which put the county at the top of the chart for hitting recycling targets. Experts argue that understanding better the lifecycle of products rather than making products recyclable might be the key to reduce textile waste. Keeping products you already have in use for longer through care, remodelling or repair could help the fashion industry to cut approx. 143 million GHG emissions by 2030, cites the latest GFA and McKinsey’s “Fashion on Climate” report. This circular model is a trademark for fur garments where 76 % of fur owners say that intend to extend the life of garments through remodelling, donation or re-sale when the garment is no longer in use. According to McKinsey’s reports, repair and refurbishments alone could potentially double the lifetime of a product. Different experts see different ways to cut waste and tackle its environmental cost. However, they agree that all roads go through cutting overconsumption of low-quality textile and making sure that the ones which ultimately become waste are recyclable.

Sustainability

Traceability: Next Big Trend in Fashion (and Politics)


Mar 11 2020 - As EU officials prepare ambitious measures aiming to make supply chains more transparent, the fur sector launches new global traceability scheme in 2020. The International Fur Federation's (IFF) new certification and traceability programme FURMARK will introduce a new chemical standard to keep track of health and safety requirements. It will also monitor environmental standards during dressing and dyeing and in future will oversee human rights across the entire fur supply chain. FURMARK comes as the EU is trying to boost its efforts and do more about transparency. Instead of merely tracing processes through the supply chains, new legislative proposals plan to look at how a product is being made from a sustainable perspective. In the Circular Economy Action Plan, the European Commission envisages a law to bind companies’ green claims to common Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) in a bid to tackle greenwashing. The action plan is proposing an electronic passport for products to contain information about emissions, expected lifespan, repairability and other sustainability information. EU policymakers also consider making due diligence mandatory for companies. With its vast market and globalised supply chains, the garment sector fell under the radar of legislators for human and workers’ rights violations and massive environmental impact of productions. But this increased scrutiny is not new for the fur sector. WelFur is an example of due diligence put in practice. A tool to identify animal welfare problems on the farm level of the fur supply chain, WelFur makes it possible to tackle issues accordingly. Based on the blockchain technology, FURMARK's traceability system would look at animal welfare, environmental concern and human rights issues through each stage of the supply chain. "We have a well-consolidated supply chain, and this allows us to provide real transparency and traceability, especially when it comes to animal welfare, fur dressing and sustainability standards," said Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF. As a result, different certification programmes and standards about fur from around the globe will follow the same standards of science, transparency and independent inspection. FURMARK certified fur could be traced back from its origin to the endpoint, enabling consumers to learn about how and where materials are sourced. The programme was developed in consultation with major brands such as the LVMH group and will kick off in 2020.

Sustainability

Natural Fur: global sustainability strategy launched in London


Feb 21 2020 - In the limelight of the many festivities taking place in and around London Fashion Week, the International Fur Federation (IFF) launched its sustainability strategy in London this week. The strategy consists of the three main pillars Good for Welfare, Good for People, and Good for the Environment, and eight major initiatives including the 2020 launch of FURMARK, a global welfare certification and traceability scheme. Read the detailed strategy here. "Fur is one of the most sustainable natural materials, the epitome of 'slow fashion', and is an industry worth an estimated 30 billion dollars per year that employs hundreds of thousands across the globe. All of those involved in the sector and wider supply chain have a role to play in helping to meet and deliver these ambitious goals, and this strategy will help them to do that," Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF said. He was complemented by Mr. Ulrik Petersen, the deputy at the Danish Embassy in London, where the event took place: "We recognise that fur and the concept of sustainable fashion complement one another. Fur is a natural, sustainable material that epitomises the concept of circular, 'slow' fashion. Representing quality, individuality, and accessibility, fur is and remains popular. Fur, therefore, has a role to play as part of the solution to the problems surrounding fast fashion, and this new sustainability strategy emphasises that with clarity," he said. In a panel debate Gianluca Longo, style editor at British Vogue and Cabana, designer Ineta Joksaite and fur farmers John Papsø and Ryan Holt, shared insight on the realities of using animal fur. Figures from the IFF show that around one-third of fur garments are purchased second-hand, 16 per cent of fur is restyled and only 12 per cent thrown away. Such figures reflect the essence of a circular economy, a concept for production and consumption seeking to design out waste. The circular economy is becoming increasingly popular in politics, not least in the European Union, where several upcoming legislative frameworks target product longevity and waste reduction. The International Fur Federation is a sister organisation to Fur Europe, representing the global fur trade. Fur Europe's animal welfare assessment WelFur programme is a part of FURMARK.

Sustainability

European fur community is ready for Green Deal


Dec 18 2019 - The European Commission unveiled the European Green Deal on December 11, outlining the EU’s vision for a climate-neutral continent in 2050 and a roadmap of concrete actions to achieve such goal. Fur Europe welcomes this initiative and highlights several areas of interests where the European fur sector can provide a meaningful contribution. As part of the Green Deal, the EU will propose a new Circular Economy action plan addressing the textile sector. Fur Europe will share best practices of the fur sector and work with the EU institutions in order to push the European fashion industry and consumers towards sustainable production and consumption patterns based on natural materials, reuse and remanufacturing of products, and waste reduction. As part of this initiative, Fur Europe also hopes that the Product Environmental Footprint initiative of the European Commission will be fully embedded in the Green Deal in order to deliver a standard methodology to assess the sustainability of products. Secondly, the Green Deal envisages a new EU biodiversity strategy. Fur Europe has so far successfully worked with the EU institutions and member states to reconcile industry practices with the sector’s aim to protect the environment and biodiversity in Europe. Given the new strategy, Fur Europe will continue to contribute in particular to the pursuit of Target 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, addressing the control and eradication of invasive alien species. The third area of interest for the fur sector will be the so-called ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, which aims to deliver sustainable food for all. The strategy will indirectly affect fur farming practices from animal welfare and environmental points of view. Therefore Fur Europe will act in concert with other livestock producers to ensure that any measures affecting farming are based on a rigorous scientific basis. Fur Europe will also ensure the protection and promotion of the work so far done on animal welfare by the European fur industry. In this view, Fur Europe looks forward to co-operating with the newly established EU Reference Centre on the welfare of poultry, rabbits and fur animals. Finally, the Green Deal includes a ‘Chemical Strategy for Sustainability’ to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and their spread in the environment. Also, in this case, Fur Europe will work to achieve the highest level of consumer protection and product safety while maintaining a high level of competitiveness in the European fur industry, in particular concerning the restriction of certain chemical substances, the use of safe alternatives and the market surveillance.

Sustainability

‘This is Fur’ kicks off 21-23 January


Dec 15 2019 - 21-23 January 2020, leaders from the European fur community are gathered in Brussels to meet their MEPs and other political stakeholders in the Brussels bubble. It is the third time the European fur sector promotes itself in the capital of Europe, following events in both 2014 and 2015. This event aimed at providing ‘first hand’ factual and reliable information about the fur industry to the EU institution representatives and an engagement and open dialogue platform for all relevant stakeholders. "There are many myths and prejudices about fur, and it is important for us to tell lawmakers about natural fur's circular qualities, and demonstrate how the European fur sector can help EU to reach its goals of climate neutrality. We have very strong policies to present including Europe's most comprehensive, science-based animal welfare programme. We are quite excited," Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe said. Besides more than 100 bilateral meetings the event in January also offers debates and presentations on animal welfare, environment and fashion. The latter with the sustainability angle, which has defined the public debate over fashion in 2019. As the most effective way to improve sustainability in fashion is longer active life for clothing, natural fur has role model qualities and this will be demonstrated live at the stand in the communications area on the third floor of the European Parliament. During the event, Fur Europe is also partner on a Politico Event titled "Achieving sustainability in the fashion industry: what's the way forward?" DOWNLOAD THE PROGRAMME (PDF)

Sustainability

European livestock sector unites to ‘burst’ the myths


Dec 10 2019 - Representatives from the European livestock sector gathered today in front of the European Commission buildings in Brussels to address the danger of oversimplifying the debate around livestock and its role in European society. This flash action echoes a number of concerns highlighted by the numerous protests that have taken place in different European countries in recent weeks. Aiming to tackle the myths that prevail online today and the agri-bashing related to livestock production, the European Livestock Voice, a group of EU-based organisations that are active on livestock issues, decided to raise their voices at EU-level by bringing together farmers, MEPs and other actors from the sector to 'burst' a series of balloons carrying common myths or misinformation in front of the European Commission building. This action took place on the first day of the European Commission’s Agricultural Outlook conference and a few days after the new European Commission was appointed in order to try to rebalance the debate around livestock production. Marianne Streel, President of the Wallonian Farmers Organisation, who was present during the flash action, said "We want to urge people and policy-makers to pay attention to the European livestock sector and to the misleading information that is damaging its reputation and endangering farmers’ livelihoods and even their lives in some cases. In Wallonia, farms shut up shop every day. In the last 10 years, 31% of our farms have disappeared. These are clear and frightening figures that can also be found in other Member States. If we lose our livestock farms, the repercussions will be significant in many areas, both in our countryside and on our plates. These consequences are currently overlooked in the debates because we tend to forget the positive aspects of livestock in Europe." In this regard, professionals from the sector are starting to mobilise to raise awareness throughout Europe, from Ireland to Italy, with initiatives that aim to make their point of view heard and remind decision-makers that the debate on these issues is also constantly evolving at academic level. The European Livestock Voice launched an initial campaign at EU level supported by a website with the aim to engage in the debate, focusing on facts and feedback from professionals in the sector. During the flash action, the organisers announced that the group will continue and expand these actions in the coming months. “We need to stand up with facts and figures. I am a strong supporter of the European Campaign #MeattheFacts, because it shows the livestock contribution to soil fertility, carbon sequestration, organic fertilizers, bioeconomy etc. There is no healthy environment or balanced healthy diet without livestock production! In addition, it is important to have in mind that around 30 million jobs are linked to the livestock sector, many of them in areas with risk of abandonment or desertification. This sector is crucial for keeping our rural areas alive,” said Mazaly Aguilar (ECR).

Sustainability

Fur Sector Enters Product Environmental Footprint Initiative


Oct 15 2019 - The European fur sector has entered the European Product Environmental Footprint initiative as part of the technical secretariat on apparel and footwear products. The technical secretariat is coordinated by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and includes fashion brands and the leather and wool sectors, which work together to develop PEFCRs. The Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) are guidelines which clarify how to apply the Product Environmental Footprint method to measure the environmental footprint of products. The European Commission has developed the initiative amid pressure for a harmonised method assessing the environmental impact of products. At the moment, there are different ways to do that and numerous labels which are confusing for the consumers. Currently, PEF is a non-legally binding recommendation. The Commission hopes that after testing the criteria with more products, it will become the basis for EU-wide legislation benchmarking goods from batteries to pasta and clothing materials. The pilot phase proved it possible to track environmental performance across large-scale supply chains. The results mean the European Commission has given the green light to the next stage, the so-called transition phase, in which existing PEFCRs can be implemented and new ones - like the one covering natural fur - can be developed. In three years, when the transition phase of research and consultations is over, the apparel and footwear sector hopes to have the tools to measure precisely the environmental impact of their products. These rules will also apply to fur, and this will enable the fur sector to calculate the environmental footprint and label fur products accordingly.

Sustainability

European Livestock Unites for a Better Public Debate


Oct 04 2019 - European livestock organisations have banded together under the European Livestock Voice in a bid to "restore balance and factual information" about livestock’s impact on health, environment and economy. The coalition of animal producers and associated sectors have produced the information hub www.meatthefacts.eu, an online portal launched to do away with the many myths and prejudices about livestock production flourishing in the public debate. "This initiative is a first of its kind at EU level for the livestock sector. We want to focus on common myths spreading on social media around livestock. We started work several months ago, and we collectively developed this platform, including our national member organisations and their specialists. Information presented on our platform is mostly coming from academic sources and peer-reviewed scientific papers. We also asked some specialists to fact check them," says Jean-Baptiste-Boucher, Communications Director of European Farmers and European Agri-cooperatives (COPA COGECA), one of the initiative’s stakeholders. At a time when alternative proteins are enjoying buoyancy on the market, farm-raised meat this year has come under scrutiny from proponents of emergent plant-based and lab-grown agritech. During the launch of the event in the European Parliament on 25 September Fur Europe spokesperson Mick Madsen said: "Today, the market is being overrun with plant-based meat. That’s the food equivalent to fake fur which was introduced 25 years ago as the so-called ethical alternative to natural fur. Today, of course, we know that this alternative pollutes oceans and waterways with microplastics. Still, the story underlines that these big ethical discussions are never as simple as they are often presented." The initiative has already achieved broad political support, amongst others from Jérémy Decerle (Renew Europe, FR), MEP Clara Eugenia Aguilera García (S & D), and MEP Alexander Bernhuber (EPP) to whom the situation is clear: “Today’s debate about livestock farming is often held on a lack of knowledge within the society. The gap between consumers and producers is getting bigger and bigger. European Livestock Voice created a significant platform to brighten this issue and fight against disinformation at European level. It is important to spread fact-based knowledge about today’s livestock farming within the media. Hence, I strongly support this initiative."