Eco-responsibility: state of play

7 July 2018

Consumers are increasingly interested in finding out where clothing comes from, as shown in the latest Greenflex survey on French attitudes to responsible consumption, carried out in 2017.

“The entire sector is now getting mobilized because the textile industry is still one of the most controversial. Report after report denounces problems relating to working conditions, as well as the environmental impacts of apparel production. Consumers are taking an increasing interest in these issues. Although shoppers are still keen on low-cost textiles, they are clearly interested in finding out more about their clothing’s origins and garment manufacturing conditions,” according to Marlène Morin-Lallemand, Consultant Director & CSR Director and Marie-Caroline Caillet, Consultant Director, Law & CSR for Greenflex.

When questioned by Interfilière Paris, they explained: “The origins of products and respect for human rights are now in the top three consumer demands. Health implications are a key factor which has influenced this enthusiasm for eco-friendly products in the purchasing behaviour of European consumers. Consumers are more sensitive to these issues (and the corresponding labels) when choosing children’s clothing and underwear, which comes into direct contact with the skin.”

In the context of an increasing lack of trust in corporations and brands, these various challenges raise questions about how the sector will adapt to meet new expectations and whether or not changing business models are required. In addition to civil and consumer society, international and European organisations are also taking a closer look at the sector: “Whether specific or not, regulations on vigilance and guides, such as the OECD due diligence guidance for responsible supply chains in the apparel and footwear sector, also encourage further questioning of the sector’s practices,” continues Marlène Morin-Lallemand.

A number of countries are starting to set import objectives. The German Ministry for cooperation and development has specified that at least 50% of imported textiles should fully comply with ecological and social criteria by 2020. Last April, the European Parliament also adopted a resolution relating to the manufacturing sector, proposing a series of measures to the Commission. The objective is to counter increased risks relating to human and labour rights violations, environmental damage and mistreatment of animals. Measures will also apply to the production of raw materials. “The changing context leads to new demands and raises new questions,” insists Marie-Caroline Caillet. “Which obligations are actually being considered or imposed upon the sector? Who is affected?

Given that supply chains are often lengthy and complex, it can be difficult to identify all the partners in the chain and the impact of each stage in the manufacturing process,” admits Marlène Morin-Lallemand. Greenflex offers solutions and support tools to help achieve this.

Greenflex will be present at the conference on sustainable development and eco-responsibility: new challenges facing the industry at 11.00am on Monday 9 July.

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