Circular mode: volumes collected fell by 20% in France in 2020

Some 205,000 tonnes of used clothing and fabrics were collected in 2020 in France. A contraction of 20% compared to the previous year which is explained by the decline in the number of parts marketed over the year, which fell to 2.4 billion (-18%), according to the eco-organization of the ReFashion sector.


The first confinement had been punctuated among the French by a great sorting carried out in the cupboards and wardrobes. Some collection systems had, however, had to cease their activity for a time as a health precaution. This is the case of Relais (Emmaüs) which in March 2020 asked to no longer deposit in saturated containers, and not to risk destroying the parts by placing them at their feet. The abundance of fabrics collected had also caused a collapse in prices, as explained to FashionNetwork the leader of ReFashion Alain Claudot (reread our interview).

In 2020, 3.1 kilos of textiles and shoes per Frenchman were thus collected on average. Thus barely the equivalent of 39.5% of the products offered for sale in 2020 were collected. Generalist brands put the most textiles and shoes on the market (38.5% in 2020), ahead of specialized mixed ready-to-wear brands (18.4%). ReFashion also notes a rapid evolution of the sector sportswear (12%), followed by lingerie (5.2%), children / childcare (4.9%), women’s ready-to-wear (4.3%), footwear (4.6%) and men’s ready-to-wear (3.3%).

With 44,633 voluntary drop-off points, France was nevertheless able to sort 156,202 tonnes of tissue collected through 64 approved sorting centers. Centers where full-time equivalent jobs (FTE) have unfortunately also suffered from the crisis, with 1,971 FTE in 2020 against 2,443 a year earlier.


But what happens to these collected clothes and fabrics? No less than 56% of the products are reused, including 5.4% of “first choice” (or “cream”) which will join Emmaüs second-hand stores and others.

To these are added 32.2% of materials that will be recycled. That is to say 23.4% of fabrics which will be frayed in order to recover the fibers and produce new yarns (mainly abroad), and 8.7% which will be transformed into rags for industrial use. There remains 10.4% of non-reusable and non-recyclable products which are recycled in the form of solid recovered fuels (SRF).

In France, the law obliges “marketers” (brands, importers, etc.) to take part in the end of life of their products. ReFashion, formerly known as Eco-TLC, is thus financed by the brands in order to coordinate collection and sorting between the various associative players in the field.

In ten years, the system would have made it possible to invest more than 5 million euros in 55 projects linked to the recycling of textiles and shoes. The organization has set itself the objective of being able to transform 100% of waste from the textile industry into new resources by 2030, in France and in Europe.


“The pandemic has highlighted the ultra-dependence of the textile industry on major exports, both upstream (imports of textiles and shoes marketed) and downstream (exports of used textiles and shoes to be reused). and to recycle) “, says ReFashion. “Downstream, this cessation of exports demonstrates the urgent need for a competitive recycling industry for non-reusable textiles and shoes in France and in Europe. A major stake for the future of the sector.”

At the beginning of the month, ReFashion announced the launch of the “Recycle” platform, which is intended to be an information and networking tool between all French players in textile recycling. The portal will go online on July 28 for a test phase, before an official launch at the end of September. On the consumer side, a new #RRRR (Repair, Reuse, Recycle, Reduce) campaign is being announced from October 8 to 17, 2021.

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