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Ecodesign Directive: the prohibition to destroy unsold clothes and shoes will soon be imposed

We talk about: Sustainable fashion
12 March 2024

Soon companies in the fashion industry will have to face a revolution: the entry into force of the new Ecodesign Directive. In July 2023, the EU Parliament and Council reached an agreement on the new eco-friendly design regulation, which will replace the current one (2009/125/EC).

At this point it is only a matter of time: the Ecodesign Directive, or ESPR Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation, will presumably come into force by the end of 2024 and will be applied in all EU states without any national variations.

But what does the new regulation entail? And above all, what impact will it have on companies in the fashion industry? Let’s take a look at it together.

What does the Ecodesign Directive entail?

The aim of the new Ecodesign Directive is to make sustainable products the norm. Truly sustainable. To do this, goods will need to meet a number of requirements, particularly including:

  • durability
  • reusability
  • reparability.

The European agreement aims to change the logic of a market fuelled by poor-quality and short lifecycle products dominated by planned obsolescence. Products will have to be of higher quality, more efficient, easy to maintain and recyclable. The way forward is clear: compliance with the new sustainability requirements should clearly reinforce circular economy, reducing the environmental impact of products and cutting the amount of waste.

Of course, this will all have to be tracked through a “Digital Passport” which will be provided for each product. Anyone will be able to consult it: consumers will be able to make a more informed choice, authorities will be able to check compliance with the requirements, and recycling companies will be able to verify the absence of substances that prevent reuse.

The new regulation is applicable to numerous product categories, from household appliances to clothing. There are specific provisions for the fashion industry.

What does the Ecodesign Directive entail for the fashion industry?

For clothing, footwear, and accessories manufacturers there is an additional provision to comply with. Indeed, with the Ecodesign Directive, a prohibition to destroy unsold goods will be imposed and implemented 24 months after the entry into force of the European regulation, thus, presumably in 2026.

What impact will this have on companies in the fashion industry? It will certainly force those that have not already done so to rethink the entire lifecycle of their products, from the design to the choice of raw materials, from the production processes to the management of stock.

To date, unsold products have three possible destinations: destruction, recycling, or the secondary market. Since destruction will no longer be possible, fashion companies will need to find reliable partners to solve their stock disposal problem.

This is exactly what we do at M&A. We collect stock and relocate it to alternative markets through our channels, while respecting brand protection policies. We also dispose of returns and unsold products through a reverse logistics service, directing goods to secondary markets of the same brands. Alternatively, we send what is no longer marketable to textile reuse and recycling processes, thanks to our partnership with Corertex.

If you are looking for an organised and reliable partner to help you adjust to the new directive, please contact us for further information.