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The textile industry has a significant impact on the ecosystem. Multiple studies by leading research centres have highlighted critical issues related to high water consumption (it takes 2,700 litres of water to produce one cotton T-shirt), pollution from pesticides and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Using data provided by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the Textile Exchange, emissions from the Apparel sector were estimated at 1.025 gigatonnes CO₂e in 2019. If left unchecked, emissions will rise to 1.588 gigatonnes by 2030” (World Resources Institute, ‘Roadmap to Net Zero: Delivering Science-Based Targets in the Apparel Sector’, 2021).

The global textile trade is expanding exponentially: clothing production giants like the United States, China, India and EU countries have been increasing their production to cope with increased consumption linked to the ‘fast fashion’ phenomenon.

In light of the alarming environmental impact and the increasing demands for concerted action to combat climate change, the European Union has introduced a mandatory requirement for Member States to adopt the EPR scheme for textile products by 2025. In Italy, Legislative Decree 116/2020 brought this requirement forward to 1 January 2022.

The Ecolight producers’ consortium, already operating as an EPR scheme for the WEEE Directive and batteries and accumulators (since 2004), extended its activities to include polyethylene goods through the Ecopolietilene consortium (from 2019) and to mattresses and upholstery with the Ecoremat consortium (from 2021). In 2021, it set up the Ecotessili consortium for textile producers. Thus, in advance of legal requirements, it introduced the Italian market to the option of pre-registering with a collective system that has already been extensively tested and is able to address the upcoming return, collection, repair, reuse, recovery and recycling requirements for textile waste. Ecotessili, along with Ecolight, Ecopolietilene, Ecoremat and the service company Ecolight Servizi Srl, together form Sistema Ecolight, a national hub for waste management expertise and operations.

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Ecotessili is the first consortium for managing EPR in the textile sector, established in Milan on 9 December 2021.

Ecotessili’s mission is to create a new EPR system that can combine efficiency, traceability and reduced environmental impact when managing textile products discarded by consumers or businesses, creating a dedicated and reliable supply chain. The consortium, which has been promoted by Federdistribuzione and important federation member brands, acts as the primary point of contact for companies in order to create a green supply chain to manage textiles and fabrics, ensuring that the companies themselves play a leading role in strategic planning, promoting circular business and design models to reduce the negative effects of production and consumption, extending the lifespan of fabrics and increasing the use of recycled materials, as well as achieving better collection, reuse and recycling of textile waste.