France's fight against clothing waste

According to a new law set out by the French government, retailers shall be banned from destroying garments, cosmetics and other goods returned, unsold or those remaining in their inventory for a long period of time. The law particularly targets luxury fashion brands who destroy unsold clothes to prevent them from being re-sold for a lower price.

Here are the main things you need to know.

The scope of the law

The law was officially approved by the French Sénat on January 30th 2020 and is currently awaiting formal enactment.

Thanks to sweeping new legislation, called “Projet de loi relatif à la lutte contre le gaspillage et à l’économie circulaire", or the “Bill on the fight against waste and the circular economy”, French companies will be introduced to more than 100 new sustainability-centric provisions, which are still under discussion.The groundbreaking law, which the French government claims is a world first, also covers electrical items, hygiene products and cosmetics, which must now be reused, redistributed or recycled. The proposal requires producers, suppliers and distributors, as well as online platforms such as Amazon, to give away their unsold merchandise. Furthermore, the law aims to make all plastic reusable or recyclable within the next 5 years and the use of single-use plastic bottles should be reduced by 50%.

This new law is an extension of the previous law entailing the banning of supermarkets from throwing away unsold food. The government wants to encourage the donation of leftover food to charity. 

Government officials on board

The government report states that consumer products thrown away and destroyed are worth over €650 million each year in France. After reading this report, Prime minister Edouard Philippe stated:

“It is a waste that shocks, that is shocking to common sense. It’s a scandal”.

Brune Poirson, a junior environmental minister in France, stated that the law will tackle waste in January, and was particularly enforced after learning the truth of Amazon’s warehouse containers of unsold and returned goods being destroyed.


Paris attorney Céline Bondard, stated that companies that destroy unsold and unused garments without attempting to recycle or reuse the fabrics could face fines of up to approximately €15,000.

Who needs to take measures?

The fashion industry is the main target of this new legislation. “apparel retailers, in particular, often have surplus unsold stock, as they renew their products more frequently (than other industries),'' stated French officials.



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