TRA warns of “imminent collapse” of textile recycling industry

According to the Textile Recycling Association (TRA), the textile recycling industry is due to “imminently collapse” because of global market challenges.

Globally, 92 million tonnes of textile waste are produced each year (picture: Shutterstock)

The TRA urges the UK government to step in and regulate the industry to prevent a collapse. It recommends the introduction of an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme.

The Textile Recycling Association is the trade association for over 75% of the textile recycling industry and it reports that there is “real fear” in the industry about being unable to collect from charity shops, recycling centres and community textile banks, due to reaching capacity at processing plants.

It highlights that not collecting waste textiles will result in “devastating environmental consequences” including microplastic pollution and water pollution.

Globally, 92 million tonnes of textile waste are produced each year, this waste is equivalent to the height of Mount Everest every seven minutes or equivalent to a rubbish truck’s worth of textiles being thrown away every second.

Furthermore, the association reports that European countries are potentially halting textile sorting operations which has exacerbated the industry’s fears for the sector’s future. France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Austria have proposed a ban on the export of used textiles within the EU, which signals a “significant shift” in policy.


Dawn Dungate, president of the Textile Association, said: “This is an unprecedented time for the used textiles industry, and we need the Government to act fast and stop delaying reforms which are needed.

“The industry is critical in the waste sector and is fundamental in supporting charity, retail and local authorities with waste clothing, which is increasing due to fast fashion.”

Red Sea

One of the major factors contributing to the collapse of the sector, according to the Textile Association, is the crisis in the Red Sea, which has caused ships to opt for significantly lengthier routes, such as navigating around the southern tip of Africa. It has also caused costs for shipping to rise exponentially.

The association reports that this, coupled with increasing taxation from African and Asian markets and mounting pressure to curb waste exports, has caused the industry to face “immense financial strain”.

It also reports that fast fashion has intensified the influx of low-quality textiles into the recycling stream. This has further driven up operational costs, pushing many textile merchants to the brink of financial collapse.

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

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