Lately, the “Loi Anti-Gaspillage pour une Économie Circulaire” or the Law Against Waste for a Circular Economy - AGEC for short - has become a main point of interest for actors across industries. It was passed in October 2017, resulting from the five-year term of consultation with all stakeholders (local authorities, businesses, NGOs) and the result of a broad political consensus involving all political groups in Parliament. But, why does it interest us now?
To answer this question, we need to understand, what is the AGEC, who does it impact, how and when. These questions are key as the answers are not as evident as they seem.
WHAT IS THE AGEC?
In its simplest form, the AGEC is a regulation set in place to transform linear economies into circular ones.
In its less simple form, this translates into 5 main axis:
Move away from disposable plastic
Better inform customers
Fight against waste and for solidarity-based re-use
Act against programmed obsolescence
In order to attain these objectives, the regulation states different timelines of implementation for each axis, as well as specific measures that have financial implications if not met.
It is the second axis that has implications on the Fashion Industry: everything that has to do with better customer information affects not only french companies, but also all companies that want to sell their products in France.
When looking at the requirements set out by the regulation, companies will have to provide clients with a lot of information concerning the environmental and social impact of their products, their traceability, and the best way in which to dispose of it to close the loop toward circularity. That being said, companies have a lot of work to do.
What are the requirements for customer information? There are several elements that are applicable to textile and footwear products, even if not all of them do. To simplify things, this article will only deal with those that impact said elements.
Companies need to disclose if their packaging is compostable that is to say biodegradable. If so, packages need to disclose this information clearly under the label “compostable package”.
Incorporation of recyclable materials
Products might have been created from recyclable materials. For clothing and footwear, this information should be displayed to indicate what percentage of the total product proceeds from recyclable sources under the label “product with at least [%] recycled content". On the other hand, the packaging should also include this information using a similar label to display the percentage of recycled materials used on the production of the packaging.
Possibility of package re-usability
If packages can be re-used or re-charged, they should display this information as “reusable packaging” or “rechargeable packaging”.
The issue of recyclability is slightly more technical, in simple terms it is the effective recycling capacity of the waste created from by the product. It should be easily separated and efficiently collected, and that the population has access to recycling points. This should also make up more than 50% than the totality of the mass’ waste and recyclable at an industrial scale.
That being said, if these criteria are met, the information should be displayed on to the consumer under the label as “mostly recyclable project”. Furthermore, if the mass represents 95% of the product, then it can be called an “entirely recyclable product”.
Traceability is one of the most important things to disclose, and one of the hardest for the companies to do so. Clothing and footwear products need to display where the main stages of their production are carried out. For textile clothing, the information referring to the geographic location of the following should be displayed: weaving, dyeing and printing and dressmaking. On the other hand, footwear needs to display the geographic location for their stitching, assembly, and finishing processes.
Presence of plastic microfibers
Companies need to disclose the proportion by mass of synthetic fibers in their products. This information is made available if the proportion of synthetic fibers is greater than 50%. As such, it should be displayed as “releases plastic microfibers into the environment during washing”.