What the French AGEC Law means for fashion brands

June 20, 2023

How brands can comply to France's Anti Waste Circular Economy Law

Transparency in French fashion is no longer a strictly voluntary measure. In 2020, the French Decree 2022-748 AGEC, or “Anti-Waste Circular Economy Law” was introduced to promote a circular economy with less waste, safer practices, and more honest communication with consumers.

The law requires all fashion brands in French territory to provide environmental labels on their products (or online product page) to clearly show where and how they were made.

Additionally, brands must share the contents of each garment, such as recycled materials, unsafe chemicals, or synthetics prone to shedding plastic microfibers. This will eventually apply to all brands that operate in the French market, including clothing, footwear, and home textiles.

Between French AGEC legislation and upcoming EU laws such as Digital Product Passports, fashion brands in France must be ready for massive change in both the regional and continental industry.

Don’t worry, though. We’re here to help your brand or company prepare to be part of a more data-driven and regulated fashion world.

Who is affected by the AGEC law?

Fortunately for fashion companies, the legislation rolls out over time to accommodate the internal shifts and preparation it takes to accomplish traceability.

1. Larger brands (with annual turnovers of €50 million or more and at least 25K products on the market) were required to comply first in January 2023.

2. Smaller brands will be held accountable over the next couple of years, in January 2024 and January 2025 for turnovers of €20million and €10 million respectively.

The Pros and Cons of new French AGEC laws

This law is both an opportunity and a challenge to create better, longer-lasting garments and be more honest with your consumers.

The new legislation brings both pros and cons, especially ones that majorly affect business practices. While your brand will be forced to adapt and may have to make sacrifices to meet the requirements, there are upsides.

Not only will you help set a sustainability standard for the rest of the globe, but you will also foster a stronger trust between your company and your customers.

65% of French people prioritize sustainable practices in their fashion choices, including environmentally-safe manufacturing, well-paid and fairly treated workers, and non-toxic substances.

The 2022 French AGEC law focuses on transparency with the consumer to allow them to effectively make informed choices when shopping for textiles. The legislation directly reflects customer desires, and therefore, is ultimately advantageous to a business strategy.

Being traceable also gives you the opportunity to show consumers how you are different from your competitors. Your brand’s manufacturing story is unique, and letting customers see behind the scenes of your supply chain can increase their loyalty.

What fashion brands need to know about AGEC

To effectively prepare to meet legislative requirements, companies need to be informed of exactly what is expected of them. Here’s what this means for your brand, and how you can get ready for it.

1. What information do the French AGEC laws require from brands?

Proper and comprehensive labeling is key to meeting these requirements. While it doesn’t have to be included on the garment itself, it must be accessible to the public for at least two years after the product is available.

2. The mandatory information includes:

- Environmental claims (such as the amount of water or energy saved in manufacturing)
- Traceability through every step of the supply chain (including fabric creation and dyeing)
- The potential release of plastic microfibers (in garments with more than 50% synthetic material)
- Amount of recycled materials used
- Potential to recycle after use
- Hazardous substances incorporated (such as unsafe dyes, finishes, or materials)
- The compost or recycle potential of included packaging
- Eco-modulations

3. Which fashion companies have to comply?

Businesses that operate any commercial activity in France, including brands, manufacturers, importers, and distributors of textile goods. Countries outside of France who wish to maintain their place in the French market must translate all product pages and include the above information. As previously mentioned, smaller brands will have more time to comply than their larger counterparts.

How to ensure compliance with new AGEC laws

To prepare for the AGEC laws, make sure your information is organized and comprehensive. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to use the Product iD Card of Sustainable Brand Platform.

The Product iD Card comes in QR codes, mini-sites, and physical hang tags that store specific traceability facts about each garment. This makes it easy and accessible to share the product’s journey, environmental impact (or life cycle analysis,) and material makeup.

Product iD Card powered by Sustainable Brand Platform

The Product iD Card is in complete compliance with new AGEC laws. It’s easy to store, share, and incorporate into your current strategy with the data you collect from your supply chains. Your customers (and legislators) will be able to find all of the answers to their sustainability concerns in one place.

Should European Brands prepare for new AGEC legislation?

Expectations for greater transparency and responsibility are not just limited to France. Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the UK have all independently implemented supply chain traceability standards.

The EU as a whole is moving forward as well. The EU Digital Product Passport initiative is anticipated to go into law in 2025. The plan utilizes data and digital solutions in order to meet the standards of the European Green Deal. The Digital Product Passports are designed to eventually be used for all product categories.

However, while the France and EU regulations are somewhat similar, they are not exactly aligned. It is currently unclear how these two requirements will be followed in tandem, or if one will have to be the primary focus of a European company’s strategy.

But industry leaders are hopeful that the French legislation won’t directly contradict the EU’s initiatives. It’s possible the EU will update its requirements to reflect France’s level of traceability and material transparency in the near future.

Other countries will likely follow in France’s footsteps, as consumers globally can watch this major change to the industry in action. The AGEC laws, and the level of transparency they demand, may inspire citizens everywhere to demand impactful change from their legislators.

We are here to help! Book a free consultation call with our team here.

Anabelle Weissinger
Anabelle is a writer based in the U.S. focusing on sustainability and gender equality. She specializes in breaking down complex topics into informative articles. Among others, she is writing for Ecocult and the Sustainable Fashion Forum.

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