As discussed in Emily Hare’s Blog, “Be a model producer: Finding a way for fashion waste”, the Environmental Audit Committee has put forward recommendations for the UK Government to introduce a Producer Responsibility system for new clothing. However, the French are already on the case, as the French Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy for textiles has been in place for over 11 years now!
The French policy came into effect on 1 January 2007 and since then, according to new French Textiles Regulations, ALL legal entities putting new textiles and clothing onto the French market (such as garments, footwear and household linens for residential use) are held responsible for the recycling or proper disposal of their products.
Products are categorised into three groups (clothing, household linen and shoes) and then categorised by size.
Recycling and collection programmes
Obligated companies need to establish their own collection and recycling programmes, which must be accredited by the French authorities. Alternatively, they can join the French Producer Responsibility Organisation, Eco TLC.
The EPR policy in France accredited Eco TLC to drive sustainable improvements of national collection and recycling of post-consumer textiles. They focus on the following issues:
- Raising consumer-awareness
- Connecting stakeholders in online communication platform
- Increasing containers availability and accessibility
- Improving recycling rates
- Identifying a textiles recovery standard
- Improving transparency of the financial and material flows related to textiles industry
- Supporting research and development in the sector
- Encouraging fashion producers to use pre-consumer or post-consumer textiles for producing new garments
Eco TLC collects a tariff from producers to help manage end-of-use textiles. Funds are then used to subsidise charities and to finance:
- consumer awareness campaigns
- clothing sortation
An annual budget of €500,000 is dedicated to foster innovations. Many projects have been financially supported to improve current sorting and recycling activities.
Every year, Eco TLC call for new projects, which gives researchers and institutions the opportunity to participate and share innovative ideas with the hope of turning them into reality. Proposals that are approved receive funding of up to 50% of the total project cost and these are outlined in a document called ‘Roads to innovation’.
As of 2017, 28 projects have been launched, which can be categorised into the following four project areas:
The purpose of current eco-design projects is to develop a new procedure for shoe design and manufacturing to permit easy separation of all components at the post-consumer stage.
The closed-loop projects aim to create yarn from used materials, such as jeans, socks, polyester and shoes.
The open-loop projects aim to facilitate the downcycling of used textiles for decorative and industrial use.
Sorting and processes
Sorting and processes projects seek to introduce new methods for textiles sorting and separating of hard components.
Textiles recycling rates
The current targets stipulate that by 2019, 50% of textiles put onto the French market should be collected separately at end-of-use. 95% of these must be reused or recycled and a maximum of 2% can be landfilled. Since 9.2kg per capita of textiles are consumed annually, a 50% collection rate relates to 4.6kg per capita.
According to a report by ECAP, in 2016, Paris had 671 collection points and collection rates were just 1.6kg of textiles per capita. This was only half the national average and only a third of the goal of 4.6kg to be achieved by 2019. The density of collection points at one per 3,343 inhabitants was considered insufficient to meet collection targets for 2019.
Since then, due to collection initiatives and communication campaigns, collection rates in Paris have improved. Quantities collected in street containers increased by 8% between 2014 and 2016 - from 2,900 tonnes to 3,130 tonnes and improvements to separate collection has led to a 31% reduction in textiles in mixed household waste, from 15.2kg per capita in 2011 to 10.5kg in 2015.
Eco TLC’s 2016 report states that, in France, 59.4% of sorted textiles were destined for reuse, 40.3% were destined for recycling or energy generation and only 0.3% could not be recovered, so the Regulations and subsequent initiatives seem to be working to improve overall reuse and recycling rates.
Is your business affected?
If your business places textiles, linen or shoes onto the French market it will be obligated to comply with the French Textiles Regulations, as no minimum thresholds are in place.
Online retailers are obligated in the same way as those with a physical presence in France and affected companies must declare annually the number of units of textile products placed onto the French market in the preceding calendar year.
It is important to note that the French Textiles Regulations also cover overseas French territories, including: Martinique, La Réunion, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Saint Pierre et Miquelon, Saint-Martin and Mayotte.
Valpak can help
If you are unsure whether your business is obligated to comply with French Textiles Regulations, or other producer responsibility legislation, please do not hesitate to contact us to chat through your business operations and potential requirements.
Our International Compliance Team currently assist a number of customers with their French textile’s submission and our knowledge of environmental regulations extends to over 130 countries, meaning we’re best placed to help your business to comply with environmental legislation overseas.
In addition, we will be hosting an event on 13 June in London “Packaging Reform in Europe – How will it impact you?”. If you think your business is affected by environmental legislation in other European countries, then book your place today.