France will impose recycling for unsold clothing in 2019

France will impose recycling for unsold clothing in 2019

The French government plans to impose a ban on the disposal or destruction of unsold clothing by fashion companies. The measure extends the rules already in place for food waste to the spillage of clothing. 


Clothing will become circular

All clothing, no matter its price or origin, will be subject to a recycling process in France if stores do not succeed in selling it. French policy makers are currently working on plans for a circular economy which explicitly target the throwaway culture in the clothing industry and aim to put a stop to spillage by making the repurposing of unsold stocks of clothing, for example by offering them to charity, an obligatory practice for all fashion companies.


The waste issue in the industry is well-known: several hundreds of thousands tons of clothing items end up in landfills or incinerators every year. Admittedly, those numbers still rank far below the staggering five million tons of clothing waste produced by individuals in Europe, but the fashion industry has an example to set, says the French government. “That is why from 2019 onwards, the rules tackling the waste of food will be extended to apply to the waste of clothing as well,” prime minister Edouard Philippe commented.


For Alliance du Commerce, the French federation of clothing and shoe companies, the change in policy has long been anticipated. The clothing industry has been subject to criticism for years, often from within its own ranks: in 2015, fashion designer Eileen Fischer denounced the fashion industry as being “a major polluter, taking second place only to the oil industry”. The federation is keeping silent on the matter until more details on the execution of the plans are available.