EU Science Hub

Environmental Improvement Potential of textiles (IMPRO Textiles)

Completed in May 2006 by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Environmental Impact of Products (EIPRO) study was conducted from a life cycle perspective. Whilst textiles was not identified within the highest areas of impact they did dominate across all impact categories with a contribution of 2–10 % of all consumption. A study on the Environmental Improvement of Products (IMPRO) for textiles was developed in order to identify technically and socio-economically feasible means of improving the environmental performance of textile products. The objectives of the study were to: - identify the market share and consumption of textile products in the EU-27; - estimate and compare the potential environmental impacts of textile products and their value chain (life cycle) consumed in the EU-27; - identify the main environmental improvement options and estimate their potential; - assess the socioeconomic impacts of the identified options. The analysis of the possible improvement options suggest that a significant reduction of impacts can potentially be achieved by targeting consumers. In particular, some of these options would require small behavioural changes. To achieve such changes it is necessary for consumers to be aware of these issues, and it is imperative that infrastructural requirements can be met. Promotion of ecolabels, and examples of best practice cases, could be used as tools. Concerning improvement options related to supply factors, it is more challenging to make an accurate assessment and comparison of the improvement potential of single actions due to a lack of experience with emerging techniques. Nevertheless, the analysis suggests that significant improvements could be achieved by encouraging practices which can produce less environment impacts, such as the recycling of effluent water.