Rules for reusing and recycling textiles

Around the world, textile production causes more pollution than almost any other industry. It also wastes a lot of natural resources. The government wants to reduce pollution and textile waste, such as old clothes and bedding. It is aiming to ensure that by 2050 all textiles are either recycled or sustainably produced.

The environmental impact of textiles

Textiles have a huge impact on the environment. Producing them requires large amounts of land, water and energy, as well as a lot of chemicals. Besides this, more and more textiles are thrown away after use. In the Netherlands, more than 50% of textiles ultimately end up in household wastebins. And with an increasing volume being produced and sold, this percentage is expected to grow. Also, people do not keep their clothes as long as they used to and they recycle them less often.

Textile producers are responsible for reuse

The government has developed a plan to reduce the environmental impact of textiles and to ensure that more textiles are reused and recycled. 

One of the measures in this policy programme for circular textiles is extended producer responsibility. This means that from 1 July 2023, textile producers will be responsible for what happens to their products after use. Textiles become waste products when consumers are finished using them. Producers must ensure that these waste textiles can be collected for reuse and recycling. They may be fined if they do not meet specific targets for this.

The rules will apply to all producers of several types of new textiles sold in the Netherlands:  

  • clothing, such as shirts, sweaters and trousers;
  • bedding, such as duvet covers and sheets;
  • table linen, such as tablecloths;
  • other household linen, such as towels and tea towels.

Enable consumers to give back their old textiles for free

Textile producers must make it possible for consumers to give back their old textiles at any time and at no charge. It is up to the producers to decide how they do this. For example, they could provide containers where people can deposit their items, or allow people to return used textiles to the shop where they bought them.

Textile producers must ensure that consumers know how to dispose of their old textiles and that they understand what happens to these items.

Report the volume of textiles sold, reused and recycled

Producers will also have to report the volume of textiles that they sell, reuse and recycle (in Dutch). This means that they must do the following:

  • from 1 July 2023, register with the government within 6 weeks;
  • from 2024, report the volume of textiles they sell in the Netherlands;
  • from 2026, report the volume of textiles they reuse and recycle.