Textiles and the environment: the role of design in Europe’s circular economy

Authors: EEA - European Environment Agency

The textile sector has a very high negative impact on the environment and climate change, according to the February 2022 report of the European Environment Agency.

Several factors are considered to explain this phenomenon:

1) a large amount of energy and water is required to produce natural fibres, such as cotton and linen, and synthetic fibres, such as polyester and elastane.

2) the use of various chemicals in the production process.

3) the expenditure of resources during use (washing, drying, ironing).

4) the dispersion of microplastics in wastewater during washing.

5) finally, the difficulty of disposing of textiles at the end of their life cycle.

The report suggests that a possible solution could be to encourage circular design in the textile industry’s business models, which would guarantee the longevity and durability of products, greater attention to resource waste in the production phase and recycling methods.

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