What is the status of environmental labelling in fashion? #94


Like the nutriscore in the food sector, environmental labeling in the textile sector must allow a comparison between two equivalent garments by visualizing at a glance which one is the least harmful to the planet. In February 2020, the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition launched a large-scale experiment with a view to generalising it, via a rating system ranging from A to E. This initiative is part of the anti-wastefulness law for a circular economy (AGEC), which also includes a ban on destroying unsold goods. On 22 October, a virtual round table at the Fashion Green Days forum offered a progress report on these environmental labeling tests, which require close scrutiny at all levels of the company, from raw materials to the transport of goods.

This principle of the simple display, by means of a letter, in fact hides a rather complex reference system, called LCA (Life Cycle Assessment). At present, “200 actors have entered an experimental phase which is due to continue until August 2021”, introduces Thomas Ebélé, the founder of Sloweare (eco-responsible fashion label). In addition to informing the customer, the scheme should above all “encourage manufacturers and distributors to improve their production”, says Erwan Autret, coordinator of the Product Service and Material Efficiency Unit at Ademe (Agency for Ecological Transition).

The products with the best scores highlighted in the shop “This process requires a lot of information to be collected, particularly from suppliers, in order to calculate the scores,” continues Erwan Autret, adding that brands already involved in the movement can share their experience, such as Decathlon, which has developed an in-house calculation tool.

There are also companies that offer this type of evaluation, such as Cycleco’s Spin It analysis software, or EIME from Bureau Veritas. Grades from A to E are then verified by Ademe and its delegates, namely Afnor and CD2E. It has already been four and a half years since the ÏDKids group (Okaïdi, Jacadi, Oxybul…) started the labeling project. Today, 500 of its products display it, and the aim is to eventually cover 100% of the collections. For the company’s CSR Director, Séverine Mareels, this project resonates as “the proof of a company’s commitment, enabling the product teams to be mobilized towards an eco-design approach. It is a continuous work: there are still things to be improved, for example, we realize that some design choices – although more sustainable – are not visible in the note”. Its aim is to involve employees right down to the shop teams, who will be trained to be able to explain to the customer why a product has an A while its neighbor has an E. The aim is for this approach to infuse the entire corporate culture,” adds Raffaele Duby, in charge of sustainable development for the offer and design at Decathlon. In the long term, this will enable us to avoid putting bad proposals on the market”. 3,600 of the sports brand’s products have environmental labeling (visible in shops and on the web), 90% of which are textiles, with the footwear segment still to be covered.