In 2020, the Circular Economy Law introduced a voluntary environmental signage scheme. Based on a life cycle analysis, the aim of this tool is to inform consumers of the environmental footprint of the products they buy, but above all to encourage manufacturers to reduce the impact of the products they put on the market. Like the nutriscore, this display will enable consumers to opt for a more responsible product if they so wish. It consists of a score from A to E displayed on products or services, on shelves, or on the internet and calculated over the entire life cycle of the product or service.
A turning point for the fashion industry
From 2022, this system will be deployed primarily in the clothing sector. Fashion industry players are thus encouraged to participate in the experimentation currently being conducted to evaluate different methodologies and display methods. In collaboration with ADEME and the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, Décathlon and Okaïdi have contributed to the program, notably by setting up a classification of textiles and have already deployed environmental labeling on some of their products. Still, under development, the tool is pushing the sector in the right direction, but some questions about its methodology remain unanswered. We will have to wait for its deployment to assess its relevance.
What is behind this note?
The score is calculated from the IMPACTS database, ADEME’s generic database dedicated to the scheme. The sector reference framework for clothing articles (BPX 30-223-23) currently under revision specifically describes how to carry out LCAs for clothing products (Functional Unit, reference flows, selected indicators, data and allocation rules, etc.).
The calculation must be carried out with a parameterized tool that includes the rules of this reference system. This tool can be a Product Balance proposed by ADEME or a tool created internally (by companies or consultants) and which will therefore have to be verified. Spin it from Cycleco, EIME from the Codde Bureau Veritas and the internal tool from Décathlon are the calculation tools that have contributed to the construction of the system. At least two impact indicators are taken into account in the note: greenhouse gas emissions (climate change) and eutrophication (water pollution). These are two of the relevant indicators for analyzing the impacts of textile products.
The link with eco-design
Through this scheme, ADEME wishes to encourage companies to move towards eco-design.
Indeed, environmental signage is a communication tool that aims to promote an eco-designed product. It is based on a framed life cycle analysis that gives a better rating to garments that minimise their impact on the two selected indicators. Eco-designed clothing, therefore, makes good candidates for environmental signage because it tends to limit its impact on all the significant indicators (including the two taken into account in the calculation of the score). In other words, eco-design is a comprehensive method of responding to environmental issues in which signage can be presented as a tool for communication and partial environmental assessment.
A forward-looking vision
Initially, the eco-organization will grant a bonus to companies that implement environmental signage, then when it is generalized, products rated A or B will benefit from it.
The French feedback on environmental signage will feed into the work of the European project Product Environmental Footprint Apparel & Footwear (PEF), which is still under construction. These two projects are developing data, tools, and methods based on life cycle analysis to model environmental impacts. In a few years, the European Commission will generalize the model via the PEF and the French technical base will evolve towards the more comprehensive European base.
Textile environmental signage, therefore, seeks to achieve major objectives and in particular to encourage companies to act on the entire life cycle of a product. The production phases of raw materials and manufacturing are often controlled internally by the brands, which facilitates the eco-design of these stages. But how to influence the use and end-of-life stages?