From the Summary: In Sweden, we consume 15kg of textiles per capita and year. Of this roughly 8kg are incinerated and 3kg are reused by charity organisations. The remaining 4kg either accumulates (e.g. in a closet or wardrobe) or are handled through other means of waste management where it is difficult to measure (e.g. recycling centres). This way of waste management is not optimal from an environmental point of view. The textile waste flows are small by weight but large by environmental impact. The production of virgin textiles give rise to about 15 kg of carbon dioxide per kg textile and uses large amount of water; energy and chemicals and poses a risk both for the environment and human health.

Policies and measures to reduce the consumption of virgin textile are needed. Hindrances for a more sustainable textile waste management are primarily economical: The environmental cost is not incorporated in the production of virgin textiles which is one of the reasons that they are cheap compared to reused and recycled textiles. Virgin textiles are produced in low cost countries while collection for reuse by nature occurs in Sweden where labour is more expensive. Large scale recycling of textiles is due to economic reasons not performed in Sweden today.

There is a need to optimise the formal reuse of textiles from an environmental point of view, either with policy or with voluntary agreements. Policies in this area must be designed not to reduce
informal reuse to achieve a higher environmental benefit. New cost efficient methods for textile recycling needs to be developed to enable high grade recycling of textiles not suitable for reuse.

New textiles should be designed for reuse and/or recycling depending on their expected life time (aesthetic; technical) while conventional materials to a large extent needs to be replaced by more sustainable materials.

Gumtree’s annual Second Hand Economy Report, conducted by Galaxy Research in August 2017 is based on a survey of 1004 adults, aged 18 to 64.

The report estimates more than 90 per cent Australians have unwanted items in their home and average of 25 unused items per home and 25% of us have 40 or more unused and the total value of unwanted goods is estimated to be worth $43.5 billion Australia-wide – up by $3.5 billion since the 2016 report.

The vast majority of Australians (86%) say that they prefer buying second hand over brand new. According to the survey, the most common unwanted goods are:

  • Clothing, shoes, and accessories (63%)
  • Books (54%)
  • Music, DVD’s and CD’s (54%)
  • Electronic goods (50%).

You can read and download a copy of the report here …  A summary of the report is on the Gumtree blog published 6 October 2017.

Report – Does your donation count or cost? Understanding donating and dumping behaviours and their impacts for Queensland charities.

March 2016 – This report provides an insight for the first time into public attitudes and beliefs of donation behaviours, its nature, scale and impact of the ‘dumping’ problem in Queensland. It also explores current strategies used to deter illegal dumping.

The report was prepared by UnitingCare Community and undertaken in partnership with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations, and the Brisbane City Council. The research was governed by members of the partnership, who invested significant time and resources to provide advice on the design of the study, data collection, findings and recommendations.

The report found approximately 8,200 tonnes of rubbish has been dumped at Queensland charities between 2014 and 2015.

The report can be downloaded at this link.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new report “A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future´ confirms members’ views that the steady production growth in fast fashion is intrinsically linked to a decline in utilisation per item, leading to an incredible amount of waste.

It is estimated that more than half of fast fashion production is disposed of in under a year, and one garbage truck full of textiles is landfilled or burnt every second.

Note from NACRO: Donations of goods to charitable recyclers are made up of clothing, textiles and homewares. The later can include the myriad of items found in our homes including kitchenware, furniture and indeed stuff from garages and sheds. Charitable recyclers benefit from 68% of these donations.

Waste sent to landfill tends to not to be clothing or textiles – but inappropriate donations which are mainly homewares, including broken and soiled indoor and outdoor furniture, toys, bicycles, white goods and unusables such as gas bottles, bbq’s and text books. Mattresses continue to be a burden for charities across the country. Rest assured charities use more than 96% of donated clothing.

RESYNTEX is a research project which aims to create a new circular economy concept for the textile and chemical industries. Using industrial symbiosis, it aims to produce secondary raw materials from unwearable textile waste.

RESYNTEX has 20 project partners from across 10 different European Union member states. Partners include industrial associations, businesses, SMEs and research institutes. Working together, the group creates an effective model for the whole value chain. More information can be found at this link.

Greenpeace released a report, Fashion at the Crossroad, at the Milan Fashion Week 2017, criticising fashion brands for pledging to move to a circular economy, essentially designing out waste and creating an endless lifecycle for their products. While mostly a positive acknowledgement of sustainability initiatives, the research reveals some examples where brands are emphasising recycling, of polyester mostly, without consideration for closing the loop, or for slowing down the consumption of raw materials. Download the Greenpeace Germany “Fashion at the Crossroads”report at this link.

Waste and Resources Action Programme was set up in the UK in 2000 to promote sustainable waste management. In 2012, WRAP released the pioneering ‘Valuing Our Clothes’ report. It examined the carbon, water and waste footprints of clothing throughout its life cycle for one year in the UK. This comprehensive report, looks at the progress that has been made since 2012 and identifies key opportunities for businesses to further reduce the environmental impacts of clothing.

WRAP’s consumer research has found that on average, clothing in the UK lasts for 3.3 years before it is discarded or passed on. Included in the key findings was a reduction of 50,000 tonnes of clothing in household residual waste in the UK since 2012 and that new markets for used clothing need to be found. A copy of the report can be downloaded at this link.

In the third episode of ABC’s “War on Waste,” Craig Reucassel explored the impact that fast fashion has on our environment. Footage of the recycling facility featured a The Smith Family charitable recycling facility. The episode can be seen on ABC IVIEW here.

“War on Waste,” on fast fashion:

  • As a nation, we spend around 5 billion dollars a year on fashion
  • 1/2 million tonne of it ends up in landfill anually
  • This is equal to 600kg thrown away every 10 minutes
  • …. or in 12 months, it fills the MCG 2 and a half times
  • It takes around 2,700 litres of water to make the average cotton t-shirt
  • The average person spends $2,000 a year on fashion
  • 3/5ths of that is trashed within a year of purchase.

On The Smith Family, as one of the largest collectors of donated clothing, one of their largest facilities gave the following stats.

  • They sort 13 million kilos of donated clothing a year
  • 3 to 4% they sell in their stores
  • 60% are exported
  • 5 to 10% are only good enough for rags
  • 30% goes to waste and it costs The Smith Family 1 MILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR TO DUMP THEM.
  • If it’s not good enough to wear again, DO NOT DONATE IT. That’s an absolutely disgraceful amount of money for a charity to have to spend to dump rubbish.

Note: The Smith Family recycling model is one of many different models. Please refer to Fast Facts at this link for additional data on the charitable recycling sector.

An investigation by Greenpeace in 2014 found a broad range of hazardous chemicals in children’s clothing and footwear across a number of major clothing brands, including fast fashion, sportswear and luxury brands.

The study follows on from several previous investigations published by Greenpeace as part of its Detox campaign, which identified that hazardous chemicals are present in textile and leather products as a result of their use during manufacture. It confirms that the use of hazardous chemicals is still widespread – even during the manufacture of clothes for children and infants.

The report can be found at this link.


A story of big brands and water pollution in Indonesia.

Greenpeace International commissioned an investigation that delves even further into the hazardous chemicals used in the production of high street fashion, going beyond previous investigations in China and Mexico. This report builds on the Detox campaign’s work, which reveals how textile manufacturing is a major contributor to water pollution in the Global South.

Undertaken in 2009 in the UK , this project was commissioned by Defra as part of the Sustainable Clothing Roadmap industry initiative. The study identifies facts and recommendations for maximising reuse and recycling of end of life UK clothing.

The overall aim of this project is to report up-to-date, comprehensive and robust data on the quality and quantity of clothing and textiles waste in the UK and present and evaluate strategies for increasing reuse and recycling rates. This includes a detailed assessment of:

• Barriers and enablers to maximising reuse and recycling
• Technical feasibility of options
• Infrastructure requirements
• Examples of best practice from overseas.

17 Detailed recommendations for maximising the recycling and reuse of clothing and textiles waste generated in the UK are made, specifically addressing the role of a variety of stakeholders in any interventions (voluntary or mandatory).

A copy of the report can be found at this link.