As fast fashion and luxury brands continue to generate an excess of inventory and tons of textile waste, France is leading the European charge to counter waste through new laws and initiatives.
In 2022, the Anti-Waste and Circular Economy Law (the AGEC Law) came into effect, which aims to reduce the textile waste and its management.
Producers, importers and distributors will be forced to give, reuse or recycle their unsold products. Items will have to be repairable, compostable or recyclable and unsold goods offered to recycling associations, while sanctions will apply to single-use practices. The measure will come into effect in January 2025 and will adapt to new priorities such as a circular economy, reduced consumption, preservation of natural resources, biodiversity and climate.
In addition, France also launched the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), relying on the will of companies to think about how their products will be disposed of, recycled or repaired. Bonuses and fines will financially incentivise companies to reach their objectives.
However, while these laws and initiatives are a step in the right direction, they aren’t binding and the choice is left to the industry. With a focus on the end of the supply chain, there is also some concern that these laws do not address the problem of excessive production. Additionally, while recycling is promoted, the majority of current fast fashion items are not recyclable or biodegradable, creating some questions on what can be done with the 2 billion tons of municipal solid waste generated each year.
The anti-waste fashion revolution will take some time to gain momentum, but in the meantime there are several alternatives for the world to consume less, better and on occasion.
- Tailoring: Consumers can opt for custom-made clothes that support local business but also allow for future adjustments in the event of body changes.
- Manufacturing from single material: Prioritizing the purchase of single material items means easier recycling over mixed fabric items that equate to a plastic bag.
- Eco-design: Choosing “eco-design” items that integrate environmental aspects in the design and development of products can help reduce non recyclable waste.
- First use: producing clothes that get discarded while brand new is one of major industry wastes at a scale.
- Second hand and Upcycling: Buying second hand clothes or upcycling luxury brands reduces consumption while giving existing items a second life.
- Renting clothes: Clothing libraries offering rentals allows consumers to satiate shopping cravings without the act of excessive consumption.