Hundreds of sustainability labels and schemes are crippling the apparel and footwear industry. This brouhaha prevents consumers and citizens from properly understanding the impact of the piece of garment that they are buying. But those same consumers are hungry for information, and the industry is hungry to provide. The EU Commission is preparing three key legislations that will dramatically change the world of green claims, namely the Consumer Empowerment Directive, the Substantiating GreenClaims regulation, and the Eco Design of Sustainable Product Regulation. In the meantime, active EU member states, like France, are already launching mandatory transparency requirements. Let’s dive into them.

At first, the need to identify materials with lesser environmental impact emerged, and organizations such as Textile Exchange developed standards to identify such materials, as early as the mid 2000s. Then came the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, with the clear mandate to standardize performance measurement and communicate environmental performance to global consumers.

At the same time, some brands worked on capsule collections to help consumers identify their ‘green(er)’ products. However, each brand has their own definition of what ‘green(er)’ really means. This situation has led to the current chaos, as consumers struggle to properly understand the messages given to them. As the concern kept growing within the industry, policy makers, both in Brussels and in other EU Capitals, decided that it was time for public authorities to tackle the issue and to start developing a solution. Two states, France and Germany, decided to move forward, and each decided to…launch their own label (The Green Button in Germany, and the ADEME labeling in France). So, the first solution to reduce the number of labels was to create even more labels, valid only in specific geographies.