EU throws away almost half of its used clothes in Africa – report — RT Africa

The amount of second-hand textiles exported from the bloc has tripled in the past 20 years, according to the European Environment Agency

The European Union exports around 90% of its used clothing and textile waste to Africa and Asia, a trend that is having a disastrous ecological impact, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has warned. The EEA has ranked textile waste as the fourth largest source of environmental pressure and climate change resulting from EU consumption.

Countries in the bloc generate around 5.8 million metric tons of textile waste annually, only a quarter of which is recycled due to limited “reuse and recycling capacities”. The majority is shipped, in some cases as a donation, to Africa and Asia, where low-cost second-hand clothing is in high demand.

The perception of used clothing donations as generous gifts to those in need does not entirely correspond to reality“, said the EEA in a recent report. It added that “used clothing is increasingly part of a specialized and marketed global value chain.”

The EEA said the amount of used textiles exported from the EU has tripled in the past two decades, from just over 550,000 tonnes in 2000 to almost 1.7 million tonnes in 2019.

Over the past two decades, Africa has been the main continent receiving used textiles from the EU, importing over 60% of EU exports. Whereas in 2000, Asia received only 26% of EU exportss,” the agency said.

However, Asia’s share would have increased significantly in 2019, accounting for 41% of EU imports and almost equaling Africa, which maintained its position as the main recipient, accounting for 46%.

Germany, Poland and the Netherlands would be the main exporters and “seem to have acted as import-export hubs for used textiles from the EU.”

The EEA has expressed concern about the disposal methods used in recipient countries, where garments deemed unfit for reuse are mainly disposed of in open landfills and informal waste streams.

According to the EEA, poor management of textile waste leads to the emission of greenhouse gases, the depletion of non-renewable resources and the release of microplastics into the environment.

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