France’s New Anti-Waste Law Prohibits Unused Goods From Being Thrown Away Or Destroyed

Jul 22, 2022by Olivia - F&F

France has introduced a suite of policy measures to prevent unused goods from being thrown away or destroyed! This anti-waste law has finally come into effect — so let’s take a look at what items this law covers.

Fashion Show RunwayFashion Show Runway

Image: Pexels / Canva

€650m ($960m AUD) Worth Of New Products Are Destroyed Annually In France

Every so often, we hear about major companies, like Amazon, burning brand new, unsold stock or returned items to cut down on costs. These large piles could consist of electronics, jewellery, books, clothes — literally anything that is unsold or returned by customers. Some companies do this because it’s more cost-effective to destroy products, than to keep on shelf. 

Alternatively, some high fashion and luxury goods’ brands may burn their unsold stock to protect exclusivity and avoid devaluing their image. It’s insane, right? Luxury fashion brand, Burberry, faced harsh criticism in 2018 when it was revealed that they had burnt more than £28.6 million worth of stock. 

In France, more than €650m worth of new consumer products are destroyed every year. But now, it must fall to zero!

Clothing On RackClothing On Rack

Image: Los Muertos Crew / Canva

In France, It’s Now Illegal To Destroy Unsold Stock!

In 2020, the French government made headlines for its anti-waste law, which contained 130 separate articles. From January 1st, 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. This law covers everything from designer clothes and luxury goods, to electronics and cosmetics! 

It’s all part of the French government’s plan to create a circular economy, and drastically cut down on the waste caused by economic growth. When goods are unnecessarily destroyed, the energy and resources used, are wasted too!

The law is also designed to eliminate waste and pollution from the design stage of a product —  all the way through to the production, distribution, consumption, and disposal.

Single Use Plastic In BinSingle Use Plastic In Bin

Image: Wachiwit / Canva

More Measures To Minimise Single-Use Plastic Waste

This wide-reaching anti-waste law tackles all forms of waste, including single-use plastics and takeaway food packaging! Under the new law, all plastic will need to be recyclable by 2025, and by 2023, fast food establishments and restaurants will need to stop offering plastic takeaway containers.

Over the next decade, the French government is aiming for a 50% reduction in the use of single-use plastic water bottles — with an overall goal to phase out all single-use plastic packaging by 2040.

The anti-waste law also tackles pollution, and requires companies to pay for the destruction of the waste that they create. E.g. Under the new law, tobacco manufacturers will need to pay for the proper disposal of cigarette butts.

Supermarket Food WasteSupermarket Food Waste

Image: Eivaisla / Canva

France Also Passed Anti Food Waste Laws!

France’s anti-waste law is actually an extension of its food waste law, which was implemented in 2016. Under its food waste law, supermarkets are prohibited from destroying unsold or expired food products. Instead, this food must be donated to food banks and food rescue organisations.

PBS NewsHour analysed whether the law was working to minimise food waste. They found that “every morning, more than 2,700 supermarkets send nearly out-of-date food to nearly 80 warehouses around the country, rescuing 46,000 tons a year that would otherwise be thrown away. Donations to food banks are up more than 20%,” said reporter Livesay.

All the food gets used up, too! “Some will use the food to prepare meals — 226 million a year according to the Food Bank. Others, donated food directly to the needy.” 

This anti-waste law is one of the first of its kind in the world! For France, this law signifies a giant leap towards a sustainable, circular economy, and a system that prevents waste before it ever materialises. 

For more updates about sustainable policies rolling out all around the world, visit our Eco News category and check out the blogs below!

World Leaders Agree To Legally Binding UN Global Plastics Treaty

Which Countries Have Banned Fur Farming?

California Introduces New Composting Laws To Tackle Food Waste

More Articles