“What can foster sustainable fashion? An accelerator.
And the accelerator is called ecotax.”
(Fabrizio Tesi, CEO of Comistra)
It was the beginning of 2020. A small revolution was taking place within Italian cities: an incredible number of electric scooters began to shyly lurk on the streets.
It was clear that even bicycles, from after 2020, have started to be mostly electric. Going a little further and checking out sales data, we can now be sure that there has been a statistically significant increase in electric vehicles purchase.
This is great news for air pollution in cities: actually, the reduction of vehicular traffic leads to the reduction of PM10, PM2.5, nitrogen dioxide, and other toxic emissions, so Italy welcomed electric vehicles for personal mobility.
But what really happened? Why did so many citizens spontaneously buy an electric vehicle?
In October 2019, the so-called Climate Decree was issued by Italian politicians. The Decree provided a 60% reimbursement, for a maximum of 550€, for those who purchased any kind of vehicle equipped with electric propulsion.
This incentive, known as the “Bonus Mobilità” (mobility bonus), was replicated the following year (2021) and deeply changed the Italian cities.
Looking at such an evident success, we eco-sustainable-fashion makers need to ask ourselves: we don’t have another planet and climate change is on us, and it is extremely urgent to turn our production system and method of consumption upside down: given that, how can we act more effectively than we are already doing?
It would be ideal to achieve something like electric scooters and electric bikes, in fashion!
One possible answer to tackle the issue is an ecotax.
Why do we need an ecotax
Saving the planet is an ethical, moral, and civic duty that should concern all businesses.
“Let’s remember that the second most polluting industry on the planet is textiles,” said Fabrizio Tesi, Comistra’s CEO, during a tv interview (available on Comistra’s Instagram channel).
“Take polyester: it’s a non-renewable fiber, as it will run out, and it creates damage during its life cycle. I.e. microplastics that end up in the seas. When polyester burns, it creates a cloud of air contaminants. I’m not saying you can only recycle wool, you have to recycle everything!”
But the recycled wool that we produce at Comistra is cheaper than “regular” wool: it costs 80% less. Paradoxically, recycled polyester doesn’t cost less than “new” polyester.
“In companies, we are no missionaries – continues Tesi – we have to create a profit. It is necessary to generate conditions that favor a product derived from recycling rather than a virgin one. We need to create a gap.”
This is where the idea of ecotaxes comes into the story.
What do we mean by “ecotax”
To put it simply, we’re talking about tax measures that are favorable to those who actively work to reduce the impact of the textile industry on our ecosystem.
“Some countries have already put this into practice – Fabrizio Tesi reminds us – England for example in 2019 has talked about transferring a sort of carbon tax from polluters to eco-friendly producers. If we listen to Ursula Von Der Leyen, getting to 2050 with zero emissions, we should accelerate the process”.
The goal is then “to encourage the transition from companies that do not produce in a virtuous way to companies that produce in a virtuous way. For example, with a bonus for those who produce with regenerated fabrics“, explains the president of Comistra.
Let’s take car purchase: if we buy a used car we don’t pay VAT in Italy, because it has already been paid at source. A similar process applied to eco-friendly fashion could push not only the purchase by the end buyer but also the companies’ own green transition. The product can be totally recycled, or only partially recycled, so we can talk about considering tax relief only above a certain percentage of recycled, just to say.
What can you do to fight this battle?
“With the Astri association, we propose the VAT to be abolished on recycled products,” explains Fabrizio Tesi, who also serves as president of the Astri association (Italian Recycled Textile Association).
Astri is active on this and many other fronts concerning the correct promotion of eco-friendly Italian fashion.
The textile district of Prato (next to Florence, Italy) is a world leader in the textile sector. Soon it could also become a leader in the textile recycling sector.
It’s up to the politicians to encourage it, with adequate environmental taxation.