Investigate used clothing dump in Chilean desert for environmental damage

Chilean justice is investigating the huge used clothing dump located in the Atacama desert, in the north of the country, for environmental damage, where tons of textile waste and other items have been deposited.

A judge and experts attended on Tuesday near the town of Alto Hospicio, where there is a clandestine garbage dump of clothing brought from the United States, Europe and Asia, the environmental court that is carrying out the procedure informed AFP on Wednesday.

“The court is carrying out a judicial proceeding in response to a lawsuit (…), where essentially it is accused that there are illegal clothing dumps inside some streams and sectors of the Alto Hospicio commune and these dumps would ultimately be a source of contamination,” explained Judge Sandra Álvarez.

In addition to clothing, there is other waste in the landfill such as tires, car parts and electronic devices.

The clothing hills that AFP published in November 2021 appear to have been burned or buried. At that time there were huge mountains of used and new clothes, part of the 59,000 tons a year that enter Chile through the free zone of Iquique, 1,800 km north of Santiago, of which 66% is discarded.

The excessive and fleeting consumption of clothing has caused the exponential increase in textile waste in the world, which takes about 200 years to disintegrate.

According to a 2019 UN study, the production of clothing in the world doubled between 2000 and 2014, which has revealed that it is an industry “responsible for 20% of the total global water waste”.

Last April, the First Environmental Court accepted for processing a lawsuit filed by a lawyer from Iquique against the Chilean Treasury and the Municipality of Alto Hospicio for “environmental damage.”

“There have been systematic negligent, omissive behaviors and lack of service that has generated serious and significant environmental damage and risk to the life and health of the inhabitants of Alto Hospicio,” argues the lawyer in the brief.

These illegal landfills, in addition, “have affected the ecosystem of a place with a very high environmental value,” he adds.


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