CO Data

Trade in Second-hand Clothing – Scale and Impact

Most donated clothing is now sold for reuse to markets in Asia and Africa. What seems a neat solution to millions of tonnes of clothing discarded annually is undercutting local garment manufacturing.

Second-hand or used clothing has become an important source of apparel in low- and middle-income countries, much of which is recycled from wealthier nations. (A parallel although much smaller scale preference is also emerging for second-hand clothing in high-income countries as a low-cost source of sustainable fashion or for its unique ‘vintage’ appeal1.)

Only 20% of post-consumer garments are collected for either reuse or recycling.

The Pulse Report 2017 estimated that only 20% of post-consu…