Towards a sustainable textile industry: Impulses from the Austrian Consumer Dialogues 2023

04. July 2023

Auf dem Weg zu einer nachhaltigen Textilbranche: Impulse von den Österreichischen Konsumdialogen 2023

From June 29 to July 1, 2023, the 2023 Austrian Consumer Dialogues on the topic of textiles took place at the Hallein Fashion School. The event was organized by the non-profit federal foundation COMÚN and brought together well-known representatives from politics and business. The managing directors of TORLAND, Claudia Widlhofer and Sascha Hümbeli, were also among the participants. One of the highlights of the Consumer Dialogues was a round table discussion with Federal Minister Leonore Gewessler and representatives from the European Parliament on the topic: "What do we do with textile waste?"

Sustainable concepts for the Austrian textile industry

In principle, there was agreement in Hallein that the laws and regulations prepared by the EU, such as the Supply Chain Act, the Green Claims Directive or the Ecodesign Regulation, are a step in the right direction. They are intended to help reduce the overproduction of textiles fuelled by fast fashion companies without them bearing the true costs of the environmental problems. Sascha Hümbeli emphasised: "A sustainable solution lies in a textile circular economy. This must be promoted by politics and business." The fact is that currently only 1% of all textiles are recycled, although studies show that much more is possible. It was discussed that the construction of a fibre-to-fibre recycling plant in Austria could be an important step towards increasing the textile recycling rate.

ceo torland sascha hümbeli austrian consumer dialogues textiles

Promoting the reuse and acceptance of second-hand textiles

Every year, tons of newly produced clothing is thrown away because it cannot be sold. In addition to long-term projects such as expanding textile recycling, short-term measures must also be taken to encourage the reuse of existing textiles. Swap meets and second-hand markets can play an important role here. Vintage clothing is very popular with young people, but according to Sascha Hümbeli: "The acceptance of second-hand textiles must be increased even further, especially among the rest of the population." Educational work and clear guidelines for textile collections are necessary to ensure that old clothing does not end up on mountains of rubbish in other countries.

Platform for the exchange and further development of sustainable concepts

The Austrian Consumer Dialogues offer a valuable platform for the exchange and further development of sustainable concepts in the textile industry. By involving representatives from politics, business and civil society, important impulses can be set and solutions developed. The event shows that it is possible to drive change and work together to create a more sustainable future for the textile industry.

An initiative for sustainable consumption and education

The consumer dialogues are an initiative of the non-profit federal foundation COMÚN and are funded by the foundation as well as by the federal, state and local governments. They are committed to barrier-free participation and are open to anyone interested free of charge. A special focus is on involving schoolchildren, apprentices and students in order to promote awareness of sustainable consumption at an early stage.

Conclusion

The Austrian Consumer Dialogues are an important step on the way to a fair and sustainable textile industry in which the circular economy and textile recycling play a central role. Through dialogue between different actors and support from politicians, sustainable concepts can be developed and implemented. The event shows that change is possible and that we can shape the future of the textile industry together.

TORLAND TIP: We don't just talk about the circular economy. We live it! Bring or send us your old jeans. We upcycle, downcycle or recycle them into new fabrics, clothing, bags and kitchen gadgets.

Photos ©: COMÚN /Liebentritt , the round table with Federal Minister Leonore Gewessler took place within the framework of the “ Austrian Consumer Dialogues: Textiles ”, organized by the non-profit federal foundation COMÚN.



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