Textiles waste is relatively small in terms of weight as compared to other waste streams, but it has a large impact on human health and environment, and its rate is increasing due to the ‘fast fashion’ model. In this paper, the authors examine the French national programme for managing post-consumer textiles and clothing through a case study research.
France is the only country in the world implementing an extended producer responsibility (EPR) policy for end-of-use clothing, linen and shoes. The case highlights the benefits of using an EPR policy and provides interesting insights about the challenges faced by the textiles waste sector. For instance, the EPR policy has contributed to a threefold increase in the collection and recycling rates of post-consumer textiles since 2006. In addition, the material recovery rate of the post-consumer textiles can reach 90%, 50% of which can be directly reused. However, the ‘reuse’ stream is facing some challenges because its main market is in Africa and many African countries are considering banning the import of used textiles to encourage a competitive textiles industry locally and internationally.
The EPR policy shows a great potential to identify new markets for ‘reuse’ and to improve the textiles waste sector. Such an EPR policy also could drive societies to financially support innovation and research to provide feasible solutions for fashion producers to adopt eco-design and design for recycling practices. This paper provides guidance for policy makers, shareholders, researchers and practitioners interested in diverting post-consumer textiles and clothing waste from landfills and promoting circular textiles transition.