Public opts for reuse over recycling in textiles report

The Green Alliance has released a report investigating how reuse is working in the UK for the fashion sector, with the organisation reasoning that if reuse can work for fashion, then there is hope that it could become more common in other sectors.

The research, carried out by PwC for the Circular Economy Task Force, suggests that reuse can be profitable for fashion businesses, particularly if they create appealing platforms and develop technologies to cut costs.

YouGov polling, conducted for Green Alliance, shows that out of over 2,000 adults in Britain, the public want businesses and government to take action. The top three moves, selected by 30% of respondents were for the industry to use less polluting production practices, to partner with charity shops and to end the destruction of unsold/returned goods. 85% of those surveyed said destroyed such goods is “wrong”.

81% of those supported standards for long lasting and high-quality clothing. Over three quarters also supported new targets to increase reuse and reduce clothing waste, over recycling.

Government recommendations

Having consulted with industry experts beforehand, Green Alliance has recommended that the government ban the destruction of unsold goods and create an effective system of extended producer responsibility for textiles, thus improving data quality, support standards for quality and durability and ultimately, reduce resources that are “highly wasteful”. It has also urged the government to set resource reduction targets for textiles and other high-impact industries.


Research suggests that the textile industry is responsible for 5-10% of global emissions and 20% of industrial water pollution, with 73% of waste clothing sent directly to landfill, and 40% of manufactured clothing never even sold or worn.

While the report acknowledges that there are positive steps within the industry, such as fashion companies launching initiatives including take back schemes with vouchers in return, Green Alliance said that this could in fact be driving sales. Businesses have made “concrete pledges” but Green Alliance noted that a lot of these surround recycling or sustainability, which is not tackling “the problem at source”.

To find out more about changes in the sector, visit the National Letsrecycle.com Conference on 6 June at QEII Centre in London. To book tickets to attend or for more information please click here.

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