Cheat sheets

What is an eco-design approach? 

To understand the notion of eco-design it is essential to situate the economic context it is a part of: the circular economy.

The current economic model - known as linear - which consists in extracting resources, transforming them into products or services, consuming them, then throwing them away, has reached its limits and is not sustainable over time. In the face of this observation, the circular economy is aiming to optimise resource management - materials and energy - in order to scale down raw materials consumption.

It's a model which takes account of three elements: production and the goods and services offer; demand and consumer behaviour; waste management. The circular economy is structured according to 7 pillars (set out in the diagram below), which include eco-design.

Numerous definitions of eco-design exist. According to the AFNOR (French Standardisation Association), eco-design consists in "integrating the environment from the very design of a product or service, and during all of the stages of its life cycle."

The ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency) adds to this definition indicating that eco-design also has "the objective of reducing environmental impacts […] for an equivalent or superior service." The objective of an eco-design approach is effectively to reduce the environmental impact of the company whilst ensuring that the performance of its products and / or services is not degraded. The preferred tool when putting in place an eco-design initiative is the life cycle analysis.

Approaches to eco-design

The first approach ishe multi-stage or life cycle approach. Designers are invited to expand their vision and take account of all of the stages of the life cycle (from the extraction of materials through to end-of-life) in order to have a global vision of the stakes linked to the environment, quality, technical feasibility, costs.../span>

The second approach is the multi-criteria approach or an approach per environmental impact. Incoming flows (of material and energy) and outgoing flows (waste, by-products, atmospheric emissions, liquid effluents) must be identified throughout the life cycle in order to obtain a precise vision of their environmental impacts: energy, water, raw material consumption, waste production, discharges into the natural environment... 

These two approaches lead to the notion of impact transfer, commonly termed a "false good idea". Consequently, when an environmental action is carried out at a particular stage of the life cycle, it is not excluded that negative effects are provoked at another stage. It is for this reason that a global vision of the life cycle and its impacts is necessary.

Eco-design levels

An eco-design approach can be broken down into four levels. Every level depends on the extent of the changes observed on the product (innovation), the time necessary for the approach and the eco-value gained (gain in terms of impacts and service provided).

  • Level 1 : Take action at the level of materials and components.
  • Level 2 : Take action on the product architecture.
  • Level 3 : Make a technological leap, new functions, new uses.
  • Level 4 : Change the business model..

Obviously, the first level is the most accessible, it's a balance which optimises the time spent, the changes made to the product and the estimated gain. The other levels constitute a veritable eco-innovation and imply a real modification to the product or service rendered.


To initiate an eco-design approach in your company, there are a few practices you can start to put in place :

  • Designate an eco-design referent who will be in charge of setting up the approach within the company and training the internal teams.

  • Define eco-design within the company's approach and business model.

  • Draft an eco-design strategy with SMART objectives : Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed.

  • Develop an annual action plan to identify the actions to be implemented to meet the priority issues.

  • Start assessing the environmental impact of the brand's timeless products.

Why embark on an eco-design approach?

Initiating and developing an eco-design approach can be extremely beneficial for a company :

  • competitive gains ;
  • innovation factor ;
  • risk reduction ;
  • construction of immaterial assets ;
  • better ethics ;
  • consideration of strategic stakes.

These benefits can be expressed in both the short and the long term and can concern the company's internal and external stakeholders (suppliers, personnel, customers...).

These benefits can be expressed in both the short and the long term and can concern the company's internal and external stakeholders (suppliers, personnel, customers...). From these elements, a map of eco-design benefits is drawn up to permit companies to position their incentives and convictions. This map is available inLe Guide de l’éco-innovation de Hélène TEULON.


Moreover, if you are a member of the eco-organization Refashion and that consequently, you pay each year an eco-contribution, corresponding to the quantity of textiles and footwear products you sold on the preceding year, you have the possibility of reducing this one by eco-designing your products and to benefit thus from our eco-modulations whose scale you will find to download here.


Eco-modulation 1

  • Objective : to encourage sustainability
  • Bonus : 50% on the contribution per piece

This scale is applicable on two categories of products :

- Eco-modulation textile sustainability

- Eco-modulation sustainability footwear


Eco-modulation 2

  • Objective : to encourage the use of recycled fibers and/or materials from used clothing, household linen and shoes
  • Bonus : 50% on the contribution per piece

Criteria retained for eligibility: the product must contain at least 15% of recycled fibers and/or materials from household textiles.

NB: Recycled polyester (Post consumer) coming from 99% of plastic bottles is excluded


Eco-modulation 3

  • Objective : to encourage the use of fibers and/or materials from the production waste of clothing textiles, household linen and shoes.
  • Bonus : 25% on the contribution per piece

Criteria retained for eligibility: the product must contain a proportion greater than or equal to 30% of fibers and/or materials from textile production waste.

NB: Recycled polyester is eligible for eco-modulation 3, in "Post production".

What did you think of the cheat-sheet?

Would you like to give us more details? Click here.

What is Eco design?

Eco design is a platform whose purpose is to provide information and assist textile and footwear brands to rise to the eco-design challenge. This platform is a Refashion initiative (formerly Eco TLC), a public authority-approved eco-organisation for the CHF industry (Clothing, Household linen and Footwear).

Our vision: a 100% circular textile and footwear industry.

Your Cookie Settings

Refashion uses trackers to customise its Site’s content according to your browser in order to enable you to share content on social networks as well as to measure the Site’s audiences and performance. For further information please see our Cookie Policy.

accept all
refuse all
Customise my choices

You may modify your preferences at any time by going to the “Cookie Policy” section at the bottom of the page.

Cookies: customise your choices

When browsing on our site, Cookies are created in your browser. Some of them require your consent. Click on each Cookie category in order to enable or disable their use. In order to benefit from all of our Site’s functionalities it is advised that the different Cookie categories are enabled. Refer to our Cookie Policy.

These Cookies are necessary to ensure that the Site functions in an optimal way. Therefore they are permanently enabled. They include Cookies allowing your site visit to be remembered during the sessions or, of you so wish, from session to session. If you refuse or uninstall these Cookies you will not be able to browse our site.
These Cookies allow us to improve the Site’s user-friendliness through the analysis of visitor use. In some case, these Cookies improve the speed at which requests are processed by allowing us to save your site preferences. Disabling these Cookies can slow the site down and limit the relevancy of recommendations.
Statistical cookies allow visits to be counted anonymously in order to know which pages are the least popular and to see how visitors browse the site without having to create a user account.
Cookies linked to social networks allow you to connect up to social networks and share the Site’s content on the internet. In some cases these cookies require the use of Personal Data. To obtain more information on the processing of your Personal Data please refer to our Confidentiality Policy.