The Textile Recycling Association (TRA) has called for “better regulation” in the sector following an ITV report which showed several tonnes of imported textile waste dumped in Ghana.
ITV News published a report earlier this week (Tuesday, 18 February) which highlighted a 30 foot high ‘waste mountain’ in Ghana made up of clothes which had been imported, many of which were ending up in the sea too.
Ghana is one of the largest markets for UK second hand clothes, much of which is used in market stalls, however the report featured many stall holders which said that a large proportion of this was unsellable.
In a statement on its website yesterday (19 February), the TRA reiterated that there should be no waste in any shipments of used clothing destined directly for sale into African retail markets.
The statement read: “the Textile Recycling Association is restating its position that there must be better regulation of the sector and existing regulation around the exports of used clothing need to be enforced more robustly. There should be no waste in any shipments of used clothing destined directly for sale into African retail markets.”
Textile recyclers in the UK have long been saying that contamination levels have been rising in the UK, as well as the quality of clothing falling. This comes as regulation is incoming as part of the EU’s Circular Economy Package which mandates the separate collection of textiles by 2025.
However, the TRA says that sorting operations which take place within Europe are effective at removing waste from clothes, and greater regulation is required to clamp down on those operating “outside the system”.
The Textile Recycling Association (TRA) asserts that it would “make no business sense for reputable businesses to export waste to their clients in recipient countries”, as this would cause severe reputational damage.
Alan Wheeler, director of the Textile Recycling Association, said: “ITN’s coverage, highlights how crucial the used clothing industry is for the economy of Ghana, the main market in Accra employs 30,000 people alone.
“It also stated the importance for people in the UK to continue donating their used clothing to charity shops, textiles banks and other reputable outlets. The environmental and social benefits of supporting the industry are huge and it has a vital role in tackling climate change and helping the UK to meet its obligation.
“However, it also emphasises how important it is that proper and robust checks are made by customs officers both in the UK and recipient countries.”
The TRA statement also said that it already has checks in place to verify that its members comply with the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and other key aspects of Environmental legislation.