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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

UK government urged to act on textile waste

The UK government is being urged to ban the destruction of unused clothing and introduce an effective extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme for textiles in a new report from the Green Alliance think tank.

Entitled ‘Changing fashion: what people want from a greener clothing industry’, the report investigates how reuse is currently working in the UK for the fashion sector and concludes that there is a need for government action.

Furthermore, European countries are exploring whether to ban the export of ‘used’ textiles within the EU. The changes come following research by the EEA (European Environment Agency) which found that the volume of used textiles exported from the EU has more than tripled over the past two decades, growing from 550,000 tonnes in 2000 to almost 1.7 million tonnes in 2019. On an individual scale, the volume of used textiles exported in 2019 was, on average, 3.8 kilogrammes per person, or 25% of the approximately 15 kg of textiles consumed by individuals each year in the EU.

Textile waste is a considerable issue, where on a global scale 92 million tonnes are produced each year alone, with this equivalent to the height of Mount Everest every 7 minutes according to the TRA. In the UK, WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) estimate that £140 million ($177.6 million) worth of clothing is sent to UK landfill every year. The UK government reported that more than 1 million tonnes of textiles were disposed of in England alone within household and commercial municipal residual waste. Of this, clothing equated to almost 400,000 tonnes and non-clothing textiles almost 430,000 tonnes. Presently, around 620,000 tonnes of used textiles are collected every year for reuse and recycling within the UK, and 60% of these textiles are exported.

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