Fines on fast fashion: France as a pioneer for sustainability

The latest trend from Paris? More sustainability! France, the country of fashion, is fighting the throwaway mentality of the fashion industry by imposing a fine on fast fashion

Penalty fee on fast fashion

Author: House of Eden

Faster, cheaper, more: According to figures from the European Environment Agency (EUA) has roughly doubled in the last decade. It has increased from 58 million tonnes in 2000 to 109 million tonnes in 2020. According to the EEA, the textile sector was the third largest contributor to water pollution and land use in 2020. In that year alone, an average of nine cubic meters of water, 400 square meters of land and 391 kilograms of raw materials were needed to produce clothing and shoes for every EU citizen.

A major reason for the increase in consumption is the emergence of fast fashion. Cheap, readily available fashion is fueled by social media and is producing increasingly fast-moving trends. In order to put an end to these excesses in the fast fashion industry, France has now become the first country in the world to introduce a law that imposes a penalty on fast fashion. That's how they should be consumption and the associated environmental damage can be contained.

What are the key points of the bill?

The planned law is aimed specifically at companies that bring a certain minimum number of products onto the market every day. The current threshold for debate is 1.000 new articles per day. The French are particularly targeting fast fashion giants such as the Chinese producer Shein and the online sales platform Temu. From 2025, these providers should pay a fee of 5 euros per item of clothing sold. The plan is for this amount to increase to 2030 euros in 10, a maximum of 50% of the sales price.

In addition to the staggered fine on fast fashion, France also wants to impose bans on classic advertising and social media campaigns. In addition, companies should be obliged to clearly point out the environmental impact of their products on their online channels. The French government plans to impose fines of up to 100.000 euros on companies that violate the law and also to ask influencers who do not comply with the regulations to pay up to 15.000 euros. The package of measures has already been unanimously passed in the National Assembly. The next stop is the Senate. This will most likely pass the law in the next few months so that it can come into force as planned from 2025.

What does the penalty charge on fast fashion?

Quality instead of quantity: With the fine on fast fashion, France aims to current consumption patterns to break through, establish a sustainable economy and also strengthen local producers. The new law could bring these benefits:

• Promotion of domestic manufacturers:

France's fashion industry has been in crisis for a long time. Although ring the bell luxury brands like Saint Laurent or Chanel are still cash-strapped, but bankruptcies are increasing in the mid-priced ready-to-wear segment. The reason for this is not least the triumph of fast fashion from low-wage countries. The penalty on fast fashion would give regional companies an advantage in the price war with dumping suppliers, secure local jobs and also reduce environmental pollution through shorter transport routes from the manufacturer to the consumer.

• Raising consumer awareness:

The introduction of the penalty fee on fast fashion should also lead to a rethink among consumers. There is often still a lack of awareness of the high price the environment pays for cheap and quickly available fashion. In addition to the higher acquisition costs due to the fine, this can also be ensured by the advertising ban. As the presence of cheap brands on social platforms decreases and the environmental damage caused by fashion has to be pointed out, there is an increasing chance that the population's acceptance of buying fast fashion will decrease.

• Reducing waste:

According to a study by the USA Every European buys almost 26 kg of textiles every year and throws away 11 kg. Here too, the French draft law can trigger change. Making it cheaper to have an old piece of clothing repaired instead of buying a new one doesn't just do that Repair craft strengthened, but the clothing is also kept in circulation for longer. This improves the climate footprint of each individual item of clothing.

• Rethinking among producers:

The bill will force fast fashion brands to adapt their business models and implement more sustainable practices if they want to remain competitive in the future. The penalty is intended to encourage fashion brands to reduce production numbers and focus on higher quality and longer-lasting garments instead of selling large quantities of cheap, inferior clothing.

What criticism is there of the planned law?

Despite great agreement among French politicians, there are also some critical voices about the fine on fast fashion. For environmentalists, the law does not go far enough. The French environmental organization “Amis de la Terre”, for example, demands that the regulations be designed in such a way that not only the fast fashion giants from the Far East, but also European retailers such as Zara, H&M and Primark are held responsible.

The Chinese online giant Shein has also already expressed criticism. According to his assessment, the number of new products launched every day is not an indicator of the environmental impact, but rather the amount of unsold goods. In addition, the law would reduce the purchasing power of the French, who are already struggling with the rising cost of living. Consumer advocates also complain that the fines could lead to less social participation among low-income earners, as they risk social stigmatization if they buy cheap fashion.

What could other possible solutions look like?

The penalty on fast fashion can be an important lever to initiate sustainable processes in various areas. However, it alone will not be enough to achieve a complete transformation of the fashion industry. In addition to the overproduction fee and the advertising ban, it is worth taking a look at other possible solutions that politicians could initiate. These would be, for example:

  • Mandatory recycling quotas for old clothing
  • Disclosure of the carbon footprint along supply chains
  • Extension of warranty periods
  • Strengthening repair networks and DIY culture

France recognizes the importance of further action and therefore plans to use the revenue from the fine to implement a holistic sustainability strategy. This includes, among other things, the promotion of repair services, the expansion of a circular economy and the financing of awareness campaigns.

Conclusion: Penalty fee on fashion as a step towards sustainability

The land of fashion is setting an important trend and taking a pioneering role in the fight against the throwaway mentality. With the fine on fast fashion, France is taking a first step towards a more sustainable fashion industry. Although there is criticism of individual aspects of the bill, the consensus in politics and society prevails: something urgently needs to be done to stop the waste of resources and environmental destruction caused by fast fashion. This law has the potential to be a game changer for the fashion industry and, ideally, to inspire other nations to follow suit so that sustainability and style can go hand in hand in the future.

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