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Export markets for textiles recyclers threatened

Used clothing export markets in parts of Africa and Eastern Europe have been hindered by political unrest in the past year.

A MRW market report from the director of the Textiles Recycling Association (TRA), Alan Wheeler, said that earlier this year there was a hike in import duties for used clothing in Kenya, which is the most important market in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Similarly, TRA members have reported that political interference in Ghana, which is a significant market in West Africa, is causing lengthy delays at container ship ports. Marketplaces have also been sold on to developers, who have been disrupting market stall holders. Export to Ghana has become much more difficult as a result.

MRW recently reported that UK textiles recycling company Retrograde went into administration, before being bought by Envirotex Recycling. Industry insiders said that the company was affected by disputes with new developers over a site in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

Imports of second hand clothes and shoes are also threatened in Ukraine, after a bill to ban them was put forward to its parliament.

Wheeler described this as “a misguided protectionist policy, which would devastate the employment prospects of the 250,000 people employed in the sector in that country.”

He added that the public in the recipient countries cannot take on further increases in prices for used clothing and that in the industry overall some of the smaller exporters rely too heavily on one export market and struggle when politics affect that market.

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