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EU lacks sufficiently stringent regulations: SMART

Jan '19
Courtesy: Ayotunde Oguntoyinbo/SMART
Courtesy: Ayotunde Oguntoyinbo/SMART
Despite the European Union (EU) having a wide range of sustainability-oriented policies and regulations, there is a lack of coherence and sufficiently stringent and enforceable regulations, according to Beate Sjåfjell, a law professor at Norway’s University of Oslo, and the leader of the Sustainable Market Actors for Responsible Trade (SMART) project.

The SMART project comprises researchers from 25 institutions from around the world and is funded by the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020. It studies the environmental and social footprints of global supply chains for clothes and mobile phones.

“Reforms adopted by the EU to promote sustainability often give a broad scope to the member states on how to implement these. Unfortunately, member states tend to aim for minimum implementation, out of fears of jeopardising their own competitive position or that of their businesses,” a press release from the project quoted Sjåfjell as saying.

The lack of coherent regulation means that potentially hazardous chemicals are continuously being used in all stages of the production process in the textile industry, says Tineke Lambooy, who is a professor at the Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands.

“The traditional production process for many kinds of fashion articles starts in the cotton field. There, a lot of pesticides and fertilisers are used in the mainstream processes. Growing cotton requires a lot of pesticides, dying yarn requires chemicals, and chemicals are also involved in the end-phase of the product life cycle, when the product becomes waste or is recycled,” Lambooy says.

Sjåfjell and other researchers from the project presented the results of their research at a conference in Brussels late last year.

The hazardous materials in textiles and mobile phones also end up being spread across the world, often in countries where waste management is lacking.

“The EU should introduce new regulation that mandates companies to disclose reliable and comparable information, and operate in a more sustainable way,” Lambooy says.

The SMART project runs till February 2020 and will in its last year concentrate on developing reform proposals and impact assessment guidelines to ensure policy coherence for sustainability. (DS)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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