Last week, France announced that it will ban companies in the fashion sector from destroying unsold items. The French Government follows in the footsteps of the United Kingdom or the city of New York.
Like autonomous communities, municipalities or entire countries have been applying small taxes to tourists for years to preserve the environment, little to public administrations around the world begin to move to cushion the impact of fashion consumption. France is the last country to join a list of governments that threaten to introduce or effectively introduce taxes or restrictive measures for companies in the fashion sector.
From now, neither Kiabi, Pimkie, Hermès nor Dior will be able to get rid of the excess stock of each season by burning garments. France has been one of the pioneer countries in implementing a law that regulates what happens to garments that are not sold.
After reaching an agreement with the upper chamber of the French Senate, the Assemblée National passed the anti-litter law a few days ago. The law, a pioneer on a global scale, forces design, luxury, electrical, hygiene, and cosmetic products companies, among other sectors, to reuse, redistribute or recycle products that have not been sold.
The aim of the French government is to push circularity
This new regulation follows the steps of a previous one to regulate the food sector. In 2016, France became the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing or destroying food in good condition and donating it to charities. If this law was breached, they could be fined up to 75,000 euros (82,874 dollars) or get a two-year sentence in jail.
In 2019, France initiated the processing of a law to prohibit the destruction of non-perishable goods, including clothing. The regulation, which originates from a 2018 idea by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (which introduced fifty proposals to implement circular economy initiatives), has now taken effect. The objective of the French government is to boost circularity since according to the administration’s calculations, 650 million euros (718 dollars) are disposed of or destroyed in non-perishable products.
The British Government made a proposal to tax a penny on each item
The United Kingdom has also taken steps in this direction, although for the moment, the projects have come to fruition. The British Government did try the introduction of a law to combat the environmental impact of the fashion industry. In February 2019, the British Parliament made a proposal, derived from a report of the Environmental Audit Committee of the Lower House of the country that resolved that fast fashion is “exploitative” and “unsustainable”, to tax each fashion garment with a penny.
In addition, Parliament also proposed that favorable tax reforms be implemented to compensate companies that design products with a lower environmental impact and that favor reuse, repair of garments and recycling.
However, last summer, the British government rejected this measure. The Executive explained that now it will only encourage the fashion industry in the country to participate in the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan.
New York forces companies to recycle more than 10% of textile waste
New York, meanwhile, also has a measure that urges companies to recycle. The US city requires recycling companies that generate more than 10% of textile waste. However, the city’s companies are not required to declare their waste and the City’s Department of Health is not responsible for collecting company waste, which makes measurement difficult.
In Spain, Más País, the political group promoted by Íñigo Errejón, in the last general elections, had in its program measures that penalize the destruction of waste. The party promised to reach 2030 generating zero waste awaiting approval among others. It equally mentioned a direct tax on landfill and incineration from 80 euros per ton.
The European Union has also implemented measures to combat the impact of fashion
The European Union has also developed a series of recommendations for the waste management of companies in the sector. Recycling, reuse for the second-hand market and the use of technology to separate fibers and produce new garments are some of the body’s suggestions for promoting a more circular economy.
The United Nations Organization (UN) also initiated a project to encourage the private sector, governments and non-governmental organizations to promote actions in the fashion industry that reduce their impact on the environment. The agency launched the United Nations Alliance on Sustainable Fashion to reform the industry and set new eco goals.