The possible extinction of the textile recycling industry was discussed by representatives from seven European countries earlier this month.
Charities, manufacturers and social enterprises from the UK, France, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany gathered for the conference in Brussels.
They have joined forces to call for help from policymakers, saying that mass imports of clothing from Asia - of low quality and hard to recycle - is linked to rash shutdowns in the second-hand textile industry.
Discussions at the conference included the state of the industry and potential solutions at local, national and European level to restore profitability and ensure the long-term survival of the industry.
One solution put forward was an "environmental contribution" funded by either governments or economic operators in the textile industry, to partially offset collection and sorting costs.
This is already in operation in other recycling industries such as tyres and packaging.
The Textile Recycling Association national liaison manager Alan Wheeler said: "The modern day textile reclamation merchant, which fulfils important social, economic and environmental objective, is under threat.
"Unless steps are taken soon to fund the textile recycling activities that are not financially viable, we could see the closure of many businesses and charitable enterprises in this sector."