US and UK textile associations have issued a joint statement in an attempt to dispel what they say are media myths and to promote industry benefits.
The UK Textile Recycling Association (TRA) and US Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) say that coverage in Newsweek and the Huffington Post wrongly suggested that exports of used clothing to developing countries harms local textile manufacturing.
Their joint statement, which also aims to promote the social, economic and environmental benefits of the industry, claims that “even if the region was to ramp up production, it is unlikely that clothing would be affordable for those area residents…very little, if any, of apparel manufactured in developing countries is sold within those countries”.
Both argue that exported garments meet the price and quality demands of the region, rather than being “unwanted goods dumped in the African market”.
At the Bureau of Internatinal Recycling conference in Amsterdam, Alan Wheeler, TRA director, complained of “erroneous reporting” on used clothing exports which, he said, added fuel to flawed arguments from those wanting a ban on such exports, including the East African Community which is looking to implement a ban by 2019.
It is claimed the production of new textiles is one of the most environmentally and socially damaging industries while textile recycling reduces:
- landfill waste
- pressure on virgin resources
- pollution, energy and water consumption
- the need for dyes and fixing agents
The two associations fear that ”misleading articles” will convince consumers to bin their old clothing rather than taking the steps to reuse or recycle it.
“The second-hand clothing industry dramatically helps to close the loop on post-consumer textile waste, and provides many people around the world the only affordable access to quality apparel,” the satement says.