The European Environment Agency, or EEA, says the European Union’s trend of exporting 90 percent of its used clothes and textiles waste could have a dire ecological impact.
According to a report, the EU generates approximately five million 800 thousand metric tons of textile waste annually, with only a quarter being recycled due to limited reuse and recycling capacities. The majority is shipped, in some cases as donations, to Africa and Asia where low-cost second-hand clothing is in high demand. The EEA has ranked textile waste as the fourth highest source of environmental pressure and climate change resulting from EU consumption.
Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands are said to be top exporters, and act as import-export hubs for used textiles from the EU. The EEA has expressed concern about disposal methods adopted by recipient countries such as open landfills or informal waste streams, leading to the emission of greenhouse gases, depletion of non-renewable resources, and release of microplastics into the environment.