Spread the love

LONDON – Clothing deposited in recycling bins in Europe was found to travel up to 17,000 km before in some cases ending up in landfill. Researchers hid 16 geolocation tags to track clothing placed in recycling bins in Switzerland. As well as charities such as the Red Cross, these bins are also used by fashion brands such as C&A, H&M and Zara as part of take-back schemes. Via slick marketing, customers are given the impression they are contributing to the circular economy via such schemes. However, an investigation found each item of clothing travelled 6,200 km on average moving by truck or boat. The project began in January 2,000 and some clothing was still in transit more than 250 days later.

This is Premium Content


Only user with Online and Print subscription can access this.


If you are a Free Subscriber, click here to upgrade.



If you already have Online or Print subscription Login To Unlock The Content!

The investigation was carried out by RTS 1, a Swiss public television channel owned by RTS Radio Télévision Suisse.

Almost half the clothing tracked ended in Eastern Europe while the rest ended up in Asia, South America or Africa.

The report concluded that of the 16 clothes and shoes tagged, ended up in second-hand shops in Switzerland and Italy, five appear to be still in transit in warehouses and more than 30 per cent of location chips “indicate risk areas: vacant lot, roadside or open-air market without a waste treatment system.”

Used clothing across the world moves through wholesalers. SOEX in Germany, SEATEX in Belgium and SOLTEX in Poland are the market leaders. SOEX has in recent years refused to talk to the press (Editor’s Note: this is a marked change of tack – I was personally invited on a guided tour of its factory several years ago).

This is a fascinating report, and great work by the team in Switzerland. We need as an industry to talk more and more about the fate of second-hand clothing. Why, for instance, after nine months are garments still in transit? What on earth is going on here? Why are we being sold the lie of circularity in fashion – surely the most blatant example of deceptive marketing in our industry?

Perhaps an even more pertinent question is this: why, are representatives from fast fashion being given a platform at major sustainability conferences (COP27, Textile Exchange, Sustainable Apparel Coalition) when it is their environmentally ruinous business model which has created this glut of excess clothing?

This is Premium Content


Only user with Online and Print subscription can access this.


If you are a Free Subscriber, click here to upgrade.



If you already have Online or Print subscription Login To Unlock The Content!


Spread the love