May 7-8, 2019
Well-established evidence suggests that the textile industry in Europe has a high environmental footprint. It is a large economic sector, with an annual turnover of 181 billion euros, which puts great pressure on the use of resources (water, energy and raw materials) with negative consequences for the environment. While the EU applies strict environmental and social regulations, unsustainable productions, wasteful consumer behaviour, and linear disposal methods, such as the low level of recycling and reuse, are all part of the problem. It has been estimated that on average and worldwide one truck full of textile waste is incinerated or landfilled every second (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). This indicates that in the textile industry and in textile consumption there lies considerable potential for innovation and numerous business opportunities.
The industry has started to change. Many companies are transforming themselves through designing/thinking their products, production methods, business models and end-of-life practices to better deal with environmental and social challenges. However, the change is uneven across companies, geographic locations and sub-sectors, and the potential for new opportunities remains large.
Existing European and domestic policies on the circular economy and innovation have already started to address the transition in a series of sectors. Governments, together with the European institutions need to continue their drive in the coming years and focus on barriers that are specific to the textile sector. Accompanying the textiles industry in the transformation would bring huge sustainability benefits while making significant positive economic contributions as well.
The 22nd European Forum on Eco-innovation will be held in Vienna, Austria, on 7-8 May, 2019. The Forum will explore eco-innovation solutions and policies for improving circularity in the textiles sector. It will bring together companies, public authorities, financiers, NGOs, innovators and researchers that are working on developing and deploying effective new technologies, innovative business and governance models, and policies that can deliver a circular textiles economy.
The event will showcase companies and private and public sector initiatives in support of innovative solutions that make the textiles sector more circular throughout the whole product life-cycle. The presentations and the discussions will explore what has worked well and why, where the bottlenecks are, and how the enabling environment needs to change so that the right innovations are developed and put in place.
An important objective of the event will be to formulate recommendations for future policy measures and instruments for the European Commission and public authorities on the national and local level.
Beyond the impact of frontrunner companies we shall also want to explore areas with untapped cross-sector potential to draw lessons for scaling up and more widely deploy successful approaches and solutions.
The following issues will be looked at in more detail:
- What is textiles? What are the main sustainability issues?
- Innovations that could lead to a more effective waste management, collection, recycling, shipment across borders, EPR schemes, etc.;
- Solutions for consumer engagement and awareness, including private consumers, supply chains and public procurement;
- Creating, accessing and facilitating funding and investment (public and private) in the sector for higher circularity;
- New circular technologies and products, with improved design, materials, fabrics;
- New types of business models that deliver circularity, including reuse, leasing, renting, sharing
This event is jointly organised by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment and the Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism of the Republic of Austria.
Live streaming of the event will be available.