The year 2020 has been marked by many unexpected challenges, which will bring a deep social change. The fashion industry will see huge amounts of evolution in the coming future, mainly in terms of customer expectations: transparency, notification and traceability will be the keys to keep customer’s trust.
On the other hand, in February 2020, just before the pandemic, a new law has been validated. The “AGEC law”, or anti-waste law for a circular economy, aims to accelerate the transformation of production, in order to reduce waste, preserve natural resources, biodiversity and prevent climate change.
This sustainable transformation will affect multiple sectors, including fashion & apparel. This new regulatory framework will lay the new future of fashion foundations.
What does this new law actually mean? What will change for brands?
There are 7 obligations and/or recommendations that will directly affect our industry. Some are easy to set up, others may require a profound change in the way brands produce and in their value chain:
Deploy the “triman pictogram”, in order to encourage citizens and simplify recycling. This pictogram must appear on the product, on its packaging or on other documents supplied with the product from January 1, 2022.
End with systematic payment receipt printing, in order to reduce waste. Brands will have to send electronic receipts using a system that complies with the GDPR regulations by protecting customer data, from January 1, 2023.
Collect used textiles, in order to promote recycling and encourage second life clothing, either by repairing or by reusing clothes in good condition, or by recycling “post consumer” textile waste.
Ban destruction of unsold customer products, in order to reduce waste and boost donations, as well as improving brand production management, from January 1, 2022.
Foster new production and encourage clothing production in an eco-design and innovative approach. Promote brands to incorporate a minimum rate of recycled material in the manufacturing process if this action improves the garment durability.
Share detailed information to the consumer in order to increase transparency. This obligation will take two forms, initially from January 2022, brands will have to achieve accessible and visible information concerning the environmental characteristics of clothing (durability, recyclable, use of non-renewable natural resources, presence of hazardous substances) and secondly calculate and display the environmental impact of products.
Extend producer responsibility (REP). Brands will still have a role to play after distributing their products such as monitoring the impacts of maintenance and end-of-life of their clothing. In addition, eco-contributions will be more widely applied to products.
These obligations will follow a precise timetable and associated modalities will be specified gradually through decrees published by ADEME.
Tomorrow, brands will have to display the environmental impact of clothing
One of the most complex obligations to implement will be the obligation to display the environmental calculation of products. The environmental footprint of a product is a multi-criteria measure of environmental performance throughout its life cycle. The objective will be to obtain the calculation of 16 environmental impacts via a score (A, B, C, D, E), a kind of “Traffic light fashion label” in which “A” would correspond to the highest durability score and “E” to the lowest rating.
How can a company calculate the environmental impact of products?
Foremost, it will be necessary to assemble the data relating to the production chain. For this purpose, brands need to cross 2 types of data:
Information about resources used for product manufacturing throughout its life cycle, including the energy, water, carbon emissions, waste generated, etc.
LCA databases (life cycle analysis), government statistics, etc.
Which methodology should a company use?
Several LCA systems allow an environmental impact assessment, but the objective is to identify a methodology standard for evaluation, in order to compare what is comparable.
Tomorrow, brands will have to follow the same evaluation methodology and perform calculations based on the same standardized database.
Currently 2 projects are being carried out in parallel to complete the calculation method, the French experiment and the European PEF (Product environmental footprint) whose rating system could become the global standard, each one with its own scope and limits.
New performance levers
Transformation has started and it becomes mandatory, but all these changes are levers and opportunities for the fashion industry.
One thing is clear, various analysis prove that the most impactful phase is selecting the raw materials. In the near future, information related to traceability added to circular design and eco-design will be the keys to success for fashion brands who want to take sustainable transformation seriously.
For more information concerning the assessment of product environmental impacts, the limits, the solutions and how to value it, please contact COSE361.
“Audacity is useful to those who know how to take advantage of opportunities” Marcel Proust