In these rather gloomy times, this is good news. According to a study by the Ecological Transition Agency (Ademe), the proportion of unsold non-food items subject to donation is increasing. It reached nearly 21%, an increase compared to previous surveys, according to Ademe.
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Better, therefore, but there is still considerable room for maneuver, since 42% of these unsold products are still “destocked” (in favor of sectors where they are resold at a lower cost), while 34% are destroyed or recycled. The Agec law (anti-waste and circular economy) February 2020 should allow a step forward, since it now prohibits their destruction. The Ministry of Transition thus wishes to “encourage donations in favor of associations fighting against precariousness and structures of the social and solidarity economy”.
The stake is therefore twofold: social, therefore, but also environmental – to avoid generating waste that is then incinerated or buried. “At present, a total of 20 million products are thus redistributed each year, to around 2,000 associations, or 1.5 million beneficiaries,” explains Romain Canler, director of the Agency for donation in kind, the one of the two large associative networks with Dons solidaires. He gives an example: “A company calls us because it ends up with 5,000 unsold shampoos. We collect them and offer them on our online catalog. A shelter for women victims of violence can then show interest and order some. “
In fact, the beauty and hygiene sector is the leading donor of unsold non-food items (around 40%). The remaining 60% are mainly clothing, home equipment, school supplies, books, etc. “The donation remains very variable depending on the sector. Our role is not to rid companies of their unsold products, but to find quality food, ”explains Romain Canler, who is not going to ask a company to recover a book that has flopped or nail polish. yellow. “We are looking primarily for diapers, sanitary napkins, certain small items of equipment, chairs, tables, etc. », He illustrates.
For their part, companies do not all have the same interest in giving – some fear seeing their brand image degraded by the donation. This choice is easier when an unsold item is difficult to sell on another market – it is not easy to destock a personal hygiene product, unlike small household appliances, for example.
Some sectors also have fewer unsold items than others and manage to better adjust supply and demand. “In our field, it’s not easy because to launch a product in a supermarket, you have to provide a certain volume,” explains Emmanuel Guichard, general delegate of the Federation of Beauty Companies (Febea). And we are dependent on seasonality: sunscreen is for summer and it lasts a year. ”Not to mention the issues of fashion and product renewal.
“Ultimately”, reduce unsold production as much as possible
Ademe also insists on these issues: because ultimately, the goal is to reduce unsold production as much as possible. This does not prevent the agency from encouraging the donation of residual unsold items. It considers that we could reach a share of 31%, that is to say ten points more than today, thanks to several levers: better information (in particular of the tax exemption from which the companies that donate benefit), a reinforced logistic capacity. , etc.
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But Ademe insists: for the environment, we must above all avoid overproduction and rethink our consumption patterns. At the Agency for Donation in Kind, we are well aware of this. “We anticipate the drop in the number of unsold products, assumes its director. One avenue is to encourage the donation of products that the company could have sold. Why not imagine that to be a “mission enterprise”, you have to donate 0.5% of the goods produced, for example? “.