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Europe’s textile labeling laws favor synthetic over natural fibers


New textile labeling laws in Europe are giving a better rating to synthetics as compared to natural fibers such as wool, cotton and mohair. The fact that natural fibers come from renewable sources is not being accounted for. The wool industry wants the EU to recognize renewable sources when it comes to textile sustainability ratings. The ‘Make The Label Count’ campaign aims to influence proposed European Union labeling laws which would see swing tags include a sustainability rating on every fashion garment.

There are concerns the current plan would see natural fibers rated poorly compared to synthetics based on water use, carbon footprint and recyclability. As per Dalena White, Secretary General of the International Wool textiles Organisation, this methodology would leave natural fibres like wool, cotton and mohair worse off. The wool and cotton industries are concerned the methodology does not factor in issues including the use of fossil fuels and growing concern about micro plastics. Some 34 per cent of all micro plastic pollution in the oceans is estimated to come from synthetic textiles. Similarly wool brokers are concerned plastic bottles recycled into clothing have become popular among those promoting sustainability, but that does not take into account those clothes ending up in landfill.

The EU is not expected to implement textile labeling until at least 2023, but till then, till there is some universal standardised labeling for sustainability, the onus is on the consumer to do a bit more research and ask more difficult questions of brands about how they produce their clothes.