Towards Authentic Sustainability: The European Parliament’s Directive and my Prior Scholarly Engagement with Greenwashing in the Textile Industry

This post discusses the recent directive passed by the European Parliament to reinforce consumer rights and advocate sustainable production practices. It critically evaluates the directive’s stipulations on environmental claims, product durability, and sustainability labelling. The article also reflects on the author’s prior scholarly engagement in 2018 with the textile industry’s greenwashing practices and the importance of empirical substantiation for sustainability claims. It establishes a connection between past research and the current legislative development, highlighting the role of academia in shaping policy.


On May 11, 2023, the European Parliament approved draft legislation with an overwhelming majority to enhance consumer rights and foster environmentally responsible production practices. This legislation targets product sustainability and durability, along with the credibility of environmental claims in advertising. This article assesses this legislation’s key features and reflects on prior scholarly work in 2018 that addressed greenwashing in the textile industry.

The Directive and Its Key Features:

The European Parliament’s directive forms part of the inaugural circular economy package and focuses on product sustainability, durability, and transparency in environmental claims. The legislation prohibits ambiguous or unsupported ecological claims such as “environmentally friendly”, “natural”, “biodegradable”, “climate neutral”, or “eco” unless accompanied by robust evidence. It also includes measures to counteract planned obsolescence by restricting design elements that intentionally reduce a product’s lifespan or functionality. Furthermore, the legislation mandates streamlined product information, with sustainability labels based solely on official certification schemes or those established by public authorities.

A Reflection on Scholarly Work in 2018:

In 2018, the author, alongside a research team, critically examined greenwashing practices within the textile industry. The sector appeared to engage heavily in portraying an image of sustainability that needed to be supported by empirical evidence of greenwashing. The research undertaken during this period highlighted the issue of greenwashing and explored the potential for cross-industry learning, particularly from the recycling sector.

The team published two academic articles focusing on the textile industry’s greenwashing practices and strategies for combating them. The articles also included a comparative analysis examining how other industries addressed similar challenges. The work emphasised the textile industry’s need to adopt empirically validated sustainable practices rather than relying on superficial claims.

Connecting Past and Present:

The recent European Parliament directive can be viewed as an institutional response that aligns with the calls made in the author’s earlier scholarly work for increased transparency and substantiation of environmental claims. This legislation sets a precedent for stringent standards and reflects the cumulative effects of academic discourse and advocacy for responsible environmental claims and sustainable practices.


The European Parliament’s directive is significant in fostering genuine sustainability and consumer transparency. Reflecting on the author’s earlier research 2018 on greenwashing in the textile industry, this legislation can be seen as an embodiment of scholarly calls for greater accountability and empirically backed sustainability claims. It illustrates the importance of continued academic engagement in shaping policies that address the environmental impact of industries.


Parliament backs new rules for sustainable, durable products and no greenwashing | News | European Parliament (

Improving recycling of textiles based on lessons from policies for other recyclable materials: A minireview – ScienceDirect

Recycling as the way to greener production: A mini review – PubAg (

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