Understanding the 3 components of the AGEC law: Article 13, implementation decree, FAQ
Several complementary texts are important to know to understand the new regulation enacted by the AGEC law and the recent updates on its implementation in practice. We have analyzed these texts in the following article to help you navigate the legal landscape more easily in your compliance process.
Three texts contain information essential to the good understanding of the new regulation enacted in the AGEC law:
- The AGEC law itself, of which Article 13 imposes the display of the environmental qualities and characteristics of products.
- The Council of State decree n°2022-748 of the 29th of April 2022, enacting Article 13 of the AGEC law. The decree details the terms of Article 13 by further defining the environmental qualities and characteristics to communicate, the categories of products concerned and the methods of communication.
- The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section published by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition, last updated on the 15th of February 2023, which helps to interpret the legal statutes and addresses questions on their practical implementation.
In the following paragraphs, you will find all the key information to know from these three texts to understand and comply with Article 13 of the AGEC law.
If you wish to understand the AGEC law beyond Article 13 and its interconnection with the Climat et Résilience (Climate and Resilience) law, we invite you to read our dedicated article.
Timetable and conditions for the implementation of Article 13 of the AGEC law
The provisions included in Article 13 of the AGEC law have started to come into force in January 2023, in a progressive manner. When will you need to comply?
Below is the timetable of the obligations to comply, which depend on annual turnover and number of product units put on the French market by the brands:
- January 2023 for companies with a turnover greater than 50 million euros, and which market more than 25,000 units. The only exempted products are those put on the market by the 31th of March at the latest.
- January 2024 for companies with a turnover greater than 20 million euros and which market more than 10,000 products
- January 2025 for companies with a turnover greater than 10 million euros and which market more than 10,000 products
These obligations apply to all textile products (clothing, footwear, household linen) and leather shoes sold in France, but not yet to other leather goods nor to jewelry.
Compulsory indications, forbidden indications, methods of communication: what article 13 of the AGEC law stipulates
Now that we have identified the key components of the law and the timetable of implementation, let’s dive in: in practice, how to comply with article 13 of the AGEC law?
Compulsory indications required by the AGEC Law
The decree enacting Article 13 of the AGEC law stipulates that a product sheet displaying the environmental qualities and characteristics of the purchased item must be available to consumers at the time of purchase. What information should this display contain?
Brands are required to inform consumers on the following 5 key topics:
- Geographical traceability, at country level, of the following three manufacturing steps:
- For clothes: manufacturing, dyeing and printing, weaving and knitting.
- For footwear: finishing, assembling, stitching.
- Microplastics: the display must indicate « rejette des microfibres plastiques dans l’environnement lors du lavage» (sheds microplastics into the environment upon washing) if more than 50% of the product, by weight, is made of synthetic fibers.
- Hazardous substances: All SVHC labelled substance (Substances of Very High Concern), as defined by Article 59 of the EU REACH regulation n°1907/2006, is considered hazardous. The decree and the FAQ section published in January 2023 allow for a tolerance period until the 1st of April 2023, and offer two alternatives:
-> Either: The indication “contient une substance dangereuse” (contains a hazardous substance) or “contient une substance extrêmement préoccupante” (contains an extremely concerning substance) accompanied by the name(s) of said substance(s), at the latest 6 months after their identification as hazardous and when they represent at least 0.1% of the product, by weight.
-> Or: a link to the Scan4Chem app. This app will make the information on hazardous substances available to consumers.
- Integration of recycled material: for clothing and footwear items – except leather products –, an indication reading “produit comportant au moins [%] de matériaux recyclés” (product containing at least [%] of recycled material)
- Premium or penalty: an indication of the premiums or penalties received or paid by the brand for the specific product as a result of its environmental performance, at the latest 3 months after they are enacted.
Focus on recyclability: is it one of the compulsory indications?
You may have noticed that we have not listed product recyclability in the five topics above. Article 13 of the AGEC law does however require that the recyclable nature of the product be displayed on the environmental qualities and characteristics sheet.
Here, an important update should be noted: following a notice from Refashion, the industry’s EPR organization, and although this point is indeed listed as compulsory in the AGEC law, indications on product recyclability will in the end not be included in the product sheet.
Refashion however reserves the right to issue a new notice if the situation evolves.
As a point of caution, this notice only applies to the recyclability of the product itself. If the latter has packaging, the recyclable nature of the packaging will need to be mentioned in all cases stipulated in Article 13 of the AGEC law.
Focus on products sold in packaging: what does the AGEC law say?
When the product is put on the market in primary packaging, or sales packaging, the environmental qualities and characteristics of the packaging (recyclability, share of recycled material and existence of hazardous substances) must also be included on the product sheet.
The governmental FAQ section further details that the sheet will in such cases be divided in two parts:
- Environmental qualities and characteristics of the product
- Environmental qualities and characteristics of the packaging
Consumer communication media for the AGEC law information
All information pertaining to environmental qualities and characteristics must be made available to consumers at the time of purchase, on a freely accessible digital format. The decree implementing Article 13 details that this must be done through a page or a dedicated website, in a section labelled “fiche produit relative aux qualités et caractéristiques environnementales” (product environmental data sheet).
This information must remain accessible at least 2 years after the last product is put on the market.
If the brand wishes, in addition, to communicate the information pertaining to environmental qualities and characteristics on a physical support, it must follow the same guidelines that apply to the dematerialized version.
Indications banned by the decree implementing the AGEC law
Since the 1st of May 2022, when the decree came into force, it is forbidden to display environmental allegations such as “biodégradable” (biodegradable) or “respectueux de l’environnement” (environmentally friendly) on products or their packaging.
This ban applies to all brands with an annual turnover above 10 million euros and which produce more than 10,000 product units. The tolerance period to dispose of existing stock, running until January 2023, is now over.
It is important to note that the Climat et Résilience (Climate and Resilience) law also regulates the use of allegations such as “neutre en carbone” (Carbone neutral). For more details, we invite you to read this article.
Controls and sanctions pertaining to Article 13 of the AGEC law
Controls regarding labelling and compulsory indications will be introduced from January 2023 by the Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Repression des Fraudes (DGCCRF, General directorate for competition policy, consumer affairs and fraud control), first in a sensibilization approach.
The potential penalty will then amount up to 15,000€ for legal entities.
Conclusion and future prospects: anticipating upcoming regulations
The entry into force of Article 13 of the AGEC law has, therefore, a very strong impact on clothing brands. In an industry characterized by complex and opaque supply chains, brands must initiate traceability processes to at least know their suppliers for the three main manufacturing steps.
The importance of these traceability efforts is further reinforced by the fact that Article 13 of the AGEC law is only the first step towards increasingly precise data collection requirements pertaining to the social and environmental impacts of textile products throughout their lifecycle. Well-designed traceability processes will therefore become paramount to follow the rhythm of new legislations.
Textile companies must, in particular, already prepare to adopt both the environmental display made compulsory by Article 2 of the Climat et Resilience (Climate and Resilience) law, and the due diligence processes reinforced by European legislation.