• Starting from next year, the French Government wants to ensure that "unsold [textile] products are neither thrown away nor destroyed."
  • An estimated 600,000 tonnes of clothing, household linen, shoes and workwear are currently discarded in the country each year, but only one-quarter of that volume is currently collected.
The French Government is working on a Circular Economy Roadmap policy paper

The French Government is working on a 'Circular Economy Roadmap' policy paper

The French Government is planning to crack down on garment and textile waste by ensuring that "unsold products are neither thrown away nor destroyed starting from next year."

By doing so, the Government of centrist President Emmanuel Macron is applying the same principles it applied to minimise food waste.

"Measures with similar intentions have been introduced in the food industry," a spokesperson at the French Embassy in London told just-style, adding: "Those pertaining to the textile industry will be based on these, and that unsold textiles will be required to be donated to the charitable sector."

How this will be achieved precisely has yet to be revealed, with a French Government 'Circular Economy Roadmap' policy paper not yet giving exact details – a draft was released in March for public consultation.

The move is important because in France an estimated 600,000 tonnes of clothing, household linen, shoes and workwear are currently discarded each year, but only a quarter of that volume is currently collected, according to a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a British charity promoting pro-recycling circular economy principles worldwide.

That said, some major brands operating in France, including Swedish clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), try to ensure none of their clothing is thrown away for landfill.

"We follow waste directives from the EU and we have clear routines for handling left-over products for H&M," communication manager Julie-Marlène Pélissier told just-style. As per the company policy "left-over products should be re-used in its original form, otherwise re-used into another type of product or recycled" by working with charity and associations.

She adds the destruction of H&M lines "is very rare and should only be done if products are not fulfilling safety regulations, for example if they are mould-infested or do not fulfill our strict chemical requirements. When safety is at stake, "products cannot be donated to charity associations."

France-based ethical fashion brand Ekyog told just-style that it never destroys unsold items. "We recycle all the products or we do big sales," a company spokesperson said.