In 2016, France generated a significant amount of waste, amounting to 4,6 tonnes waste per inhabitant. Large amounts of post-consumer waste are barely looped back into the system, fall through the waste management system’s cracks, and end up causing environmental damage and endangering biodiversity. In 2016, an estimated 4.5 million tonnes of plastic waste was generated in France, with 80,000 tonnes polluting the natural environment and 10,000 tonnes entering the Mediterranean Sea. As a result, France was responsible for the most plastic pollution in the Mediterranean region that year.
Furthermore, large amounts of post-consumer waste are mismanaged, and products and materials are discarded before being used even once. Unsold goods worth EUR 630 million are destroyed in France each year. When perfectly good products are destroyed unnecessarily, the energy and resources used to produce these goods are also wasted. Unsold goods are destroyed, resulting in 5 to 20 times more GHG emissions than reuse.
A System-Changing Law
France enacted its comprehensive Anti-waste Law in 2020 to address these environmental and societal problems. The law intends to switch the production, distribution, and consumption system from a linear to a circular economic model, eliminating waste and pollution at the design stage. It promotes enterprises from a range of industries, local governments, and residents to reduce waste and adopt more circular practices. The law aims to combat planned obsolescence, promote a better resource management system from the design stage to the recovery of materials, eliminate waste by encouraging reuse and supporting charitable organisations, phase out single-use plastic packaging by 2040, and provide consumers with better and more transparent information.
What Exactly Does This Law Imply?
The decree (Décret n° 2022-748) puts into effect the requirements outlined in Article 541-9-1 of the Environment Code. Companies will be required by this article to inform consumers about the environmental characteristics of waste-generating products.
This article addresses a wide range of waste-generating products, including textiles. Different requirements will be imposed on various product categories. In this summary, we will concentrate on the requirements for clothing and footwear.Who is impacted?
Producers, importers, and distributors of waste-generating consumer products in France will be concerned by this act if these products represent an annual turnover of more than 10M€ and a volume higher than 10 000 units.
Important dates to remember?
- The AGEC Law (Anti-Waste for a Circular Economy) was passed on February 10th, 2020, and was published on April 29th, 2022.
- Some claims (see Article 223) will be prohibited immediately following the publication of this decree: April 30th, 2022.
- The disclosure requirements will be phased in beginning January 1st, 2023**, depending on the number of products sold on the French market that are subject to the disclosure obligations (here all apparel and footwear products).
Textile Disclosure Requirements (Article 221)
All five requirements outlined below apply to clothing and footwear. There are some exceptions, and some requirements apply to packaging as well.
These five requirements outline what information must be provided to consumers.
( but they do not specify how it must be proven. We can anticipate the publication of more specific documents to guide brands in the implementation of these requirements.)
Recycled Material Content (Including packaging, does not apply to leather products)
The information must be disclosed in terms of global proportion in weight: “product containing at least X% recycled material”.
Recyclability (also applies to packaging)
If the product meets all of the following recyclability requirements, the recyclability information must be disclosed with the phrase “mostly
- The ability to effectively collect waste at the state level;
- The ability to sort the waste;
- The absence of elements or substances that would disrupt the recycling process or limit the usability of the material once recycled;
- The fact that the recycled material produced by the implemented recycling processes represents more than 50% of the weight of the collected waste.
- The ability to recycle on an industrial scale, including a guarantee that the quality of the material obtained is adequate to ensure that it will be used and that there is sufficient capacity to begin an industrial recycling.
If the product meets all of these criteria and the recycled material produced accounts for more than 95% of the weight of the collected waste, the term “entirely recyclable product” may be used.
If the product contains more than 50% synthetic fibers by weight, the information about microplastic fibers must include the phrase “the product rejects plastic microfibers in the environment during washing.”
If a product contains more than 50% synthetic fibers by weight, it must be noted in the information on microplastic fibers that “the product releases plastic microfibers in the environment while washing.”
By identifying the nation in which each of the manufacturing process’s following steps was completed, traceability information must be disclosed:
- Clothing:- Weaving, dyeing, printing, and confectioning.
- Footwear:- stitching, last-making, and finishing.
Disclosure Method (Article 222)
- At the time of purchase, the consumer must have access to the data in the aforementioned table in a dematerialised, unrestricted, and simple to use format.
- To enable aggregation, the provided data must be readily reused digitally. Every product’s information that is subject to the requirements must be posted to a specific webpage for this purpose in order to enable direct inquiries and data extraction for potential automated processing.
Inappropriate claims (Article 223)
On new (not used) consumer products and packaging, the terms “biodegradable,” “environmentally friendly,” or any analogous claims are prohibited. This duty is effective right away (April 30th 2022). Products created before to this decree’s publication (April 29, 2022) may be sold, however, without complying with the requirement until January 1, 2023.
According to Paris attorney Céline Bondard, businesses who dispose of unsold and unused clothing without attempting to recycle or repurpose the textiles risk fines of up to €15,000 (about $15,000).