Gets rid of waste, France stops the brands from throwing their “leftover clothes” away

Journalists on a press tour walk past numerous models that are a part of the exhibition "Fast Fasion - The Dark Side of Fashion" in the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden, Germany, 4 Decemeber 2015. The exhibition is running from 5 December 2015 until 3 July 2015 and is looking at the fashion and the fashion industry perspective from environmental, ethical and economical perspectives. Photo by: Sebastian Kahnert/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

In recent years France has devoted itself to cutting down on actions that produce food waste; one can already see the preliminary effects of such efforts.  Now, the government is turning its gaze towards the fact that less stress is being placed on clothing waste, and it intends to forbid clothing brands from wantonly discarding leftover products, instead making them into new clothes.

In 2016 France stipulated that megamalls and large stores are required to donate unsellable food to charity groups, and are no longer able to throw away or burn these products.  At the time, this was the world’s first country to enact a law reducing food waste.  The Ministry of Agriculture has indicated that two years since this law was implemented, it’s achieved a very positive outcome, with the amount of food charities receive increasing by 22%.  Italy, Peru, and Finland have since followed suit.

Last April the French government once again pledged to crack down on food wasting activities.  Parliament discussed necessitating that food providers offer free measures for customers to take unfinished food to-go, with the goal being by 2025 decrease the current amount of wasted food by half.  Concerning the salvaging of leftover food, once progress was seen there the government plans to start salvaging “leftover clothes”, which is brand new clothing that is simply unable to be sold.

This week the French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, proposed the Circular Economy Roadmap, in which it raises that the government will by the year 2019 prohibit the disposal of unsellable clothing items, possibly mandated the formation of a connection between clothing brands and charity groups, in order to donate clothing.  France has multiple charities that are particularly for the donation of clothing: they take articles of clothing that are in good condition and wash them for re-selling or donation.  Those articles that are damaged are made into cleaning rags or fires; the most well-known of these groups is called Emmaus.

Le Figaro, a French newspaper, reported that in October of last year the Danish television program “Operation X” investigated and discovered that clothing brand H&M burns all of its unsellable clothing, with the amount of clothing burned within a year exceeding 10 metric tons.  H&M admits this to be true, but they assert that it’s only the products that do not fully conform to safety standards, that are unable to be sold, and that are unable to be recycled that get incinerated.  Additionally, apparel retail brand Celio was recently also revealed to discard clothing; this attracted popular anger and disdain on French social networks.

24 October 2015- Opening of the largest flagship store of the Swedish clothing chain H & M, Hennes & Mauritz, in South East Europe, in Athens, Greece on Ermou street. (Photo by Panayiotis Tzamaros/NurPhoto) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***

Nonprofit organization Eco TLC’s data shows that the textile industry is only inferior to the oil industry in creating the most pollution, regardless of during the manufacturing process or during transportation, it puts a heavy burden on the environment.  Every year France purchases 600,000 metric tons of clothing, fabric, and shoes, yet only a third is recycled and used again – there’s still a lot of room for improvement.  Pursuing high speed replacement “Fast Fashion,” makes this cycle continue to accelerate, therefore harming the environment even more.  According to statistics there are 1,280,000 tons of clothing waste every year transported to America’s landfills; it is estimated that once the year 2030 arrives, the clothing industry’s carbon emissions will be 60% greater than today’s, that is, 2.8 billion tons of carbon emitted.  All of Denmark’s Operation X underway investigations and reports point out that, since starting in 2003, H&M has already thrown away over 60 metric tons of clothing, with all of the disposed of clothing being fully intact and undamaged; the only reason for disposal was overproduction.

The Fast Fashion fad has engulfed the entire world.  Even Taiwan since 2011 has been opening one store after another, flaunting these Fast Fashion stores, with brands coming from all over the world including ZARA, Uniqlo, H&M and GAP.  Last May international environmental protection organization Greenpeace released “After the Carnival: International Fashion Consumer Survey Report.”  In this report, mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, along with Italy and Germany, within these countries and areas more than half of those questioned in the survey have excessive apparel purchasing behavior.  This excessive consumerism has gradually become a common phenomenon.

Swedish multinational retail-clothing company, known for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers and children, H & M opens a new store in Nice, Southern France, on August 19, 2015. FRANCE – 19/08/2015/BEBERT_1908B_044/Credit:BEBERT BRUNO/SIPA/1508192100 (Sipa via AP Images)

With the demands of these fast fashion brands spreading across the world, the leftover clothing that is not sold in the future will no longer be trash, but turned into a resource.  France has already started to take action.  “Devdiscourse” reports, in addition to official restrictions prohibiting fashion brands from discarding clothing, the French Prime Minister has also declared that before 2020, these rules will include electronic equipment and household appliances.  These the “lifespan” of usage of these electronics will be required information, along with the possibility of repair in efforts to prevent the discarding of fixable appliances.  This “battle plan” encourages businesses to make longer lasting and fixable products, for the sake of reducing waste and protecting the environment.