The world is waking up to the negative impacts of exporting waste from developed to developing countries and many countries are now banning the practice. Bloomberg recently reported that Thailand is to ban plastic waste imports from 2025 to cut pollution.
The reality is much of this “waste” is packaged as recycled material that is being exported for reuse but many exports of recycled material have little or no value and instead of being recycled, are sent to landfill, or more often dumped illegally in the destination country.
There are several case studies about the dumping of recycled clothes around the world in, for example, Asia, Africa and South America. As a case study, we can see a video called Trashion, by the Changing Market Foundation which exposes the stealth export of waste plastic clothes to Kenya where exports of recycled textile waste from developed countries have created a mountain of illegally dumped textile waste. The reality is that the textiles collected, and recycled by the developed world are largely worthless as they are mostly composed of poor quality, fast fashion items that are by design disposable.
The impact created by the manufacturing of fast fashion is significant. There are millions of tonnes of fast fashion textile waste created annually of which less than 1% is reused with the vast majority sent to landfill. Much of this landfill waste comes from fossil-based fibres such as polyester and nylon which do not biodegrade and ultimately will break down into microfibres, potentially contaminating land, food, rivers and seas.
The landscape will change as proposed laws such as those in Europe to require the recycling of textiles and ban the export of textile waste come into force in the next few years. Fashion companies will need to demonstrate how they manage their textile waste.
Eurofins can help you understand your impact
As a provider of metrics and measurement Eurofins can help companies understand their impact. A few of these services are listed below. For those companies that would like to explore our full scope of services, please contact us for a discussion with one of our sustainability experts.
- Measuring and assessing the durability and quality of products
- Support with understanding the life cycle of products (LCA’s)
- Microplastic release and identification testing
- Supply chain risk and waste mapping services
- Zero waste to landfill certification for suppliers
- Biodegradability, disintegration and compostability testing