The production and consumption of textiles is associated with a significant adverse effect on both the environment and the climate. With this year’s theme, the adjudication committee wants to focus on the fact that the Nordic Region can be a pioneer in the necessary transformation of the entire textile value chain.
“The unsustainable approach to textiles is a global problem, but we in the Nordics have a special obligation to adapt and to change behaviours. Our consumption is gargantuan and has an impact far beyond our national borders. In short, we buy too much, use what we buy too little, and then we don’t recycle enough,” says Cilia Indahl, head of the adjudcation committee for the Nordic Council Environment Prize.
This year’s theme covers the entire life cycle of textiles, from the production of the raw material to the design, sale, repair, reuse, recycling, and disposal.
“We’re in a situation where we have to reduce our consumption, extend the life of textiles, and introduce circular business models. We hope that the Nordic Council Environment Prize can help show that a sustainable textile industry is possible and that there are already many good examples to draw inspiration from,” says Cilia.
Read more about this year’s theme below:
The textile industry poses many challenges – social, environmental, and climate-related. Sustainable textile production and a greater awareness of textile consumption in the Nordics can help to encourage positive development on a global level.
The dominant business model in textile production and consumption is one based on low-quality products, fast fashion, and ever-growing consumption. The textile manufacturing industry all too often offers badly underpaid work and violates human rights. Above all, recent ethical issues such as child labour and forced labour have changed companies’ procurement decisions.
Since clothing and textiles are part of a complex global system, it’s important that we look not only at the social impact of the supply chain, but also at its environmental impact. Every second, a truckload of textile waste is burnt or sent to landfill. The textile industry accounts for four percent of global freshwater consumption and is taking over agricultural land from food production. An especially large quantity of water and land is used in the production of cotton. The textile industry is also responsible for 10 percent of industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, 16 percent of pesticide use, 20 percent of global emissions of water pollution, and 35 percent of microplastics in the ocean.
The multidimensional and systemic problems of the textile and clothing industry mean that changes are needed at multiple levels, by multiple stakeholders.
The textile value chain includes:
- Raw material production and procurement
- Textile material manufacturing
- Product manufacturing
In order for this system to be sustainable, the use of new bio-based, recycled, and recyclable textiles is needed, among other things. This requires products to be designed in accordance with the principles of a circular economy, while manufacturing needs to safeguard social sustainability and provide adequate information about product and corporate responsibility. In addition, business models are needed that cater for the borrowing, renting, sharing, repairing, repurchasing, and recycling of products. Extending the lifespan of textiles is more important than reducing wear and tear.
Both global and local responsibility are needed within this system. Each and every stage and stakeholder is interrelated. The Nordic textile industry, retail industry, fashion designers, and consumers can act as role models and, through their decisions, they can influence the extent of textile use and the supply chain as a whole.
The 2023 Nordic Council Environment Prize will be awarded to a key player that is pursuing the systemic transformation of the textile industry, textile services (service design), and clothing consumption in a way that is sustainable on a global scale. The theme of this year’s Nordic Council Environment Prize supports the following global sustainable development goals: SDG 12, SDG 9, and SDG 17.
We hope that the Nordic Council Environment Prize can help show that a sustainable textile industry is possible and that there are already many good examples to draw inspiration from.
Anyone can nominate a candidate
The Nordic Council Environment Prize is the only one of the Nordic Council’s five prizes for which the public can put forward a candidate.
The deadline for nominating a candidate is Tuesday 9 May.
Who can be nominated?
The prize is awarded to a Nordic individual, enterprise or organisation that has managed to integrate consideration for nature and the environment into its business or work in an exemplary way, or that has made an extraordinary positive contribution to nature and the environment in some other way. The winning entity must have a Nordic perspective and operate in the Nordic Region and/or in relation to parties outside of the Nordic Region.
The Nordic Council Environment Prize was first awarded in 1995 with the aim of raising awareness of work on the environment in the Nordic Region. The Nordic Council also awards literature prizes for both adult literature and children and young people’s literature, a music prize, and a film prize.