French Fashion & Waste Elimination 

French Fashion & Waste Elimination 

Just 2 years ago, France became the first country to pass a law preventing supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food (which can be read about in our article "Closing the French Food Loop"), and now French lawmakers are working to implement the same strategy for clothing. The effort states that by 2019 brands would be banned from throwing away unsold clothing into landfills or through incineration, bust must instead implement them in sustainable ways including recycling or donating to charity shops.

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The initiative is encompassed as part of the proposed Circular Economy Roadmap, which includes 50 measures for France to become a more sustainable economy and specifically moves away from a linear “take, make, dispose” model towards a model of restoration and regeneration.

According to the European Clothing Action Plan, last year Europeans consumed nearly 6.5 million tons of clothing and France alone discards 600,000 tons every year with only 25%  actually ending up in recycling bins or charity shops.

While the proposal has not yet completely been outlined, it may include potential tax breaks for companies that re-use or recycle clothing, but it is not likely to ever become a law, but rather an incentivized proposal. Francois Souchethas,  lead of the Circular Fibres Initiative at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, stated that “Now is the time for the fashion industry to ensure their products are used more [and that], whether it’s through pressure from legislators or consumers, a lot of signals say the time is right for the industry to rethink their business model.”

While this incentive may prove to be positive for a large number of French fashion companies, some may find it tougher to implement the new measures. Last year, H&M was accused of burning 12 tons of unsold clothing per year and Louis Vuitton has long been rumored to burn all unsold bags instead of discounted items in outlet stores. While the new circular economy incentive only addresses textiles, lawmakers hope that luxury brands will consider alternative recycling methods, rather than donating unsold clothing, to avoid brand dilution.

Care to check out a few brands that are already ahead of the game? Check out our article, "FROM HEAD TO TOE: A LOOK AT 2 SUSTAINABLE FRENCH FASHION COMPANIES!


We hope you've enjoyed learning about French Fashion & Waste Elimination! What are your thoughts on this effort by French lawmakers as a way to create a more "circular economy?" Join the conversation below!