Your old clothes pollute Africa?
June 25, 2023

According to a report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) published recently the volume of used textile exported from the European Union has tripled in the last two decades and causes a major waste problem.

Since EU has limited recycling capacity, most part of the used or donated clothing is exported to Africa and Asia, the report added.


“The common public perception is that second-hand clothing donations are always useful in these regions, but this does not reflect the reality,” said the experts in the report.

In 2000, 550.000 tons of textiles were exported, while in 2019 this number grew to 1,7 million tons.

“Textiles primarily go for reuse because there is a demand for cheap and second-hand clothes from Europe.” What is not suitable for reuse mainly ends up in open landfills,” states the report.

“Due to the obligation for separate textile waste collection in all EU countries by 2025, the quantities of used textiles collected may further increase,” it added.

In 2019, 46% of second-hand clothes ended up in African countries. In the same year, 41% of used textiles ended in Asia, where it had been sorted and processed. Most of it was used as fabric or filling material in industry or was sent to other Asian countries for recycling or to Africa for reuse.

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