EPR Policy: France's National Programme for Textiles Recovery | Knowledge Hub | Circle Economy Foundation

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EPR Policy: France's National Programme for Textiles Recovery

To achieve sustainability targets, policymakers and practitioners in certain countries are introducing extended producer responsibility policy (EPR). Under such policy, producers are required to assume the costs of collection, treating, and recycling of their end-of-life products. EPR policy is generally lacking in the textiles industry, though in 2007, France was the first country to declare a legal framework for managing textile waste through EPR policy with the goal of holding textile producers responsible for the collection and recycling of end-of-use (EoU) clothing, linen, and shoes. Following France's example, other countries may follow suit and implement EPR policy as a means of managing post-consumer textiles. Without such measures and effective enforcement mechanisms to back them, producer accountability for waste management could continue to fall by the wayside.


As the fast fashion model has continually grown over recent decades, the increased output of EoU textiles and associated byproducts has had negative implications for both human and environmental health. The research article, "Developing a national programme for textiles and clothing recovery" by Bukhari et al. (2018), reported that fast fashion has created a demand for 80 billion new garments every year, with the U.S sending 9.5 million tonnes of textile waste to landfill, the UK sending 350,000 tonnes, and China sending 20 million tonnes. These amounts are rising. To help manage the intensifying waste streams, as well as those of other industries, policy makers and practitioners must act to close the material loop and ignite a circular economy transition that will promote maximum reuse of resources and waste prevention. The development of long-term programmes that are environmentally sound and economically viable could potentially manage the overconsumption of clothing and excessive waste generation. Such programmes must place more responsibility of collection, treatment, and recycling of EoL products on producers.


As of 2017, France is the only European country to have implemented an EPR framework in the textiles sector, having introduced it with Article L-541-10-3 of the Code de l’Environnement in 2007. In order to meet the European Commission's waste management target of 50% recovery of solid waste, the nation has set a 50% collection target (approximately 300,000 tonnes, 4.6 kg/person/year) for the annual sales of clothing, linens and footwear. Additionally, they've set a goal of reaching over 95% recovery for all collected textiles.

The legislation requires all legal entities producing new textiles and clothing in the French market to take responsibility for the recycling/proper disposal of their products, either by financially contributing to an accredited producer responsibility organization (PRO), or by creating an individual take-back programme approved by French public authorities. The French PRO incentivizes textiles producers with reduced annual tariffs for use of recycled fibers from pre- or post-consumer textile, linen, or shoes. It also monitors required sorting and recycling channels, while making collection points visible to consumers through an online interactive map, and accessible via a number of on-street collection containers, charities, and take-back collection shops. Those collected materials which are not sold, distributed to individuals in need, or exported are shipped to sorting and recycling facilities.

France's EPR policy provides a model for improving collection and recycling rates, sector transparency, consumer-awareness, technological innovation, social enterprises, and communication and information sharing between stakeholders.


EPR policy has contributed to a threefold increase in the collection and recycling rates of post-consumer textiles between 2006 and 2018. Since its implementation, there has been a 13% annual increase in post-consumer textiles collection. The material recovery rate of post-consumer textiles can reach 90%, 50% of which can be directly reused. EPR policy also encourages collaboration between actors and support research and development pertaining to issues faced by both fashion producers and recyclers. In 2016, the French PRO collected €17.2 million in tariffs from fashion retailers, which has been used to support recycling organizations in promoting increased collection and recycling rates, maintain transparent material and financial flows, fund research and development projects to identify solutions for textiles producers and recyclers, and support inclusion for socially excluded workers. In France, the sorting of textiles has provided 1,400 full-time jobs as to 2017, 49% of which were reserved for workers facing employment difficulty.

However, obstacles pertaining to the 'reuse' stream persist due to its main market being in Africa, where countries are considering banning the import of used textiles with hopes of encouraging a local and international competitive industry. Additionally, sorting procedures are expensive and labor-intensive, while the common use of fiber blends make textiles difficult to sort and recycle.

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