European country-specific sustainability laws09 May 2023
A deep dive into EU-specific legislations for fashion brands.
The European Commission is working on implementing a suite of policies intended to reshape the way fashion operates. Upcoming regulations include new design requirements to make products more durable, reducing their environmental footprint and providing more transparency for consumers about items’ social and environmental impacts.
Fashion brands will be required to focus on emission reduction, garment worker rights, supply chain responsibility and product circularity.
In a previous article, we highlighted EU-wide regulations that the fashion industry will have to comply with, but since requirements vary between different regions, we will dive into the specific legislations of different European countries, namely France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, in this one.
What we cover in this article
- France’s Anti-Waste for a Circular Economy Law (AGEC)
- Germany’s Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (GSCDDA)
- Sweden's and Netherland's Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
- UK's Best Available Techniques (BAT) framework
- How to get support with upcoming fashion legislations
France’s Anti-Waste for a Circular Economy Law (AGEC)
France was one of the first countries to implement laws to promote a circular economy. Since 2022, it became illegal for companies to destroy unsold stock and instead all producers, importers and distributors are required to donate, reuse, redistribute or recycle unsold items.
In 2020 the French government adopted the Anti Waste Circular Economy Law (AGEC) with the aim to shape a system-wide transition toward a circular economy. The AGEC law is designed to encourage businesses across various sectors as well as citizens to eliminate waste and adopt more circular practices. It begins with mid-term targets that build toward long-term objectives.
Under The AGEC law, fashion brands are required to provide information on:
1. Traceability, indicating the name of the country where each of the following operations is mainly carried out. For each garment, brands and retailers have to disclose the location where the fabric is made, dyed and printed, and where the final cut and sew happens. For each piece of footwear it’s required to disclose the place where stitching happens, the assemblage, and the finishing stage.
2. The presence of hazardous substances when an hazardous substance has a percentage mass greater than 0.1% in the product
3. The compostability and recyclability of all packaging
4. The risks of release of plastic microfibers related to the use of synthetic materials when the percentage of synthetic fibres is greater than 50%
5. The presence of recycled materials in percentage of recycled fabrics in textile and footwear, except for leather products
6. Recyclability of the product, characterised by the capacity to be efficiently collected and sorted, the absence of elements or substances affecting sorting and recycling, the recycled material produced by the recycling processes must represent more than 50% of the collected waste and the capacity to be recycled on an industrial scale and with a guarantee that the quality of the recycled material obtained is sufficient to be reused
Who is affected by the AGEC law?
From 2023 on, the AGEC law applies to businesses that sell more than 25,000 items a year in France and generate revenue in excess of €50 million ($54 million) in the country. In 2024 it will begin to affect companies with more than 20 million euros of revenue (and more than 10,000 items) on the French market and from 2025 companies with an annual turnover of over 10 million euros and at least 10,000 units produced annually will also have to comply. The sanctions won’t exceed €15,000 but the reputational consequences will be significant.
How to comply with the AGEC law?
To comply with the AGEC law and to showcase your products’ journey, brands can use Sustainable Brand Platform Product ID Card. With the helps of QR-codes, mini-sides and ID-cards brands can communicate their sustainability and clearly display the steps their garments took before reaching the final consumer. This allows brands to effectively showcase transparency and traceability in a comprehensive and accessible manner and to fully comply with the AGEC law.
Germany’s Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (GSCA)
Germany is not falling behind, The German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (GSCA) was implemented in January of this year, requiring companies with more than 3,000 employees to follow clear and enforceable due diligence requirements from raw material to finished product.
This legislation introduces a legal requirement for large businesses operating in Germany to manage social and environmental issues in their supply chains. Companies must identify risks related to human rights violations and environmental degradation in their value chains with direct and indirect suppliers, and document these to the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA).
Next year, these requirements will extend to companies with more than 1,000 employees. Failing to comply with it could come at a significant cost, with fines of up to 2% of global turnover and potential bans from companies accessing public contracts in Germany for up to 3 years.
Sweden's and Netherland's Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
Other European countries making advances with sustainable fashion regulations include Sweden and the Netherlands. Sweden introduced an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for textiles last year. It will be phased out over several years and the aim is that from 2028 onwards, at least 90% of the textile waste collected will be reused or sent for material recovery. Sweden’s target by 2028 is to reduce the average amount of textile sent to landfill by 70%.
In the Netherlands, all producers that market within the country (including ecommerce) will need to appoint a legal entity to carry out the EPR. By 2025, Dutch municipalities will have to collect textiles separately and the government has a target for 50% of textile products to be recycled or reused by 2025, increasing to 75% by 2023.
UK's Best Available Techniques (BAT) framework
Progress on sustainable fashion in the UK has been largely centred around greenwashing and misleading marketing claims around the environmental impact of a product. The Consumers Markets Authority in 2021 created a guide for businesses making environmental claims that comply with the law. Called Green Claims code, this guide was developed to support businesses in making truthful and honest sustainability claims, with 6 key points to ensure eco-friendly claims are accurate, substantiated and unambiguous.
To further support fashion brands in reducing their emissions and lowering their impacts on the planet, the UK government released in 2022 the Best Available Techniques (BAT) framework. This was created to improve the environmental performance of businesses and enable regulators and industry to work together to identify and apply the best techniques available to reduce emissions and their impacts on the environment.
How Sustainable Brand Platform can support in achieving compliance with legislations
For fashion brands that want to comply with the extensive legislations that are being enforced throughout Europe, a Supplier ESG Assessment is a good starting point. You can read all about how to audit your suppliers here and have a look at Sustainable Brand Platform's Supplier ESG management tool here, which is a digital repository of suppliers’ sustainability documentation and ESG performances.
Through primary data collection Sustainable Brand Platform allows brands to carry out impact assessment and manage supply chain environmental risks. This service can help brands achieve full supply chain traceability which is required by the AGEC law and the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (GSCA).
Another useful solution for fashion companies looking to comply with the upcoming fashion legislations is Life Cycle Assessment. It allows brands to dive deeper into products' environmental footprint to understand how they perform across multiple environmental indicators. To create truly sustainable products from inception, the Sustainable Design Tool of Sustainable Brand Platform can help make better products by testing different materials and processes.
Many of the legislations enforced throughout Europe require brands to effectively communicate their progress on sustainability in a truthful, accurate and accessible way. That’s why Sustainable Brand Platform's also offers ESG Reporting Services to ensure reporting is done in a way that’s compliant with GRI and GHG protocols.
Only through collaboration and joint efforts it will be possible for brands to be compliant with the regulations coming into place in Europe. Implementing sustainability into brands’ operations is no longer an optional extra or a sign of good practice, it’s an unavoidable requirement that all fashion companies have to fulfil.
Only by measuring impacts can they be reduced, and that’s where Sustainable Brand Platform comes into play. We ensure accuracy through a multitude of science-based services and the use of primary data that can support companies on their journey to compliance.
Ready to start? Get in touch with our Sustainability Success Team here.