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Recyclers have the solution

As younger people turn increasingly to used clothing and textiles, the industry must continue to emphasise why reuse makes sense.

During Ramadan it is not unexpected to see demand for used clothing and textiles in largely Islamic countries drop off and recent reports suggest that this may have happened again this year. One European sorter has cited that their trade with Pakistan has eased in recent weeks, whilst demand from the increasingly important sorting hub in the Middle East has also dropped a little as the processing of used clothing slows. Now that Ramadan has passed, we can expect to see productivity recovering along with demand and trade into these countries.


At the same time trade into Eastern Europe has remained strong. The high cost of living continues to be a factor that is impacting on our sector at multiple stages. High fuel costs (in part driven by the war in Ukraine) and high inflation rates throughout Europe, are making people continue to focus on their purchasing habits.

Buying second-hand clothing not only helps individuals make their money go further but they are often able to buy better quality or more fashionable creme clothing for less money than if they sought out cheap new clothing. Furthermore, the trade into countries neighbouring Ukraine is strong. This is in part due to demand from Ukrainians themselves buying more second hand to make their tighter budgets go further in these extremely difficult times.

Currency fluctuations are also having an impact on demands in the global markets. The current situation is favouring demand from Eastern European countries over that of African nations.


In the west, it seems that Gen Z are the people that are driving this demand for second-hand clothing and textiles. The US-based online re-sale platform Thred Up has published its latest annual report which states that 83% of respondents to a survey have shopped or are open to the idea of buying second hand and that one-in-three clothing items bought in the last 12 months was second hand.

Whilst value and quality are clear motivators for individuals looking to buy second hand, the environmental impacts of fashion are placing an increasingly important role in driving the second-hand market. According to this report, 63% of Gen Z and Millennials believe that they can reduce their individual environmental footprint if they buy second-hand clothing whereas in the population as a whole the reported figure is 55%. And they have good reason to believe this. If you buy a second-hand item, there should be no need to produce a new one and it is in the production phase that the biggest environmental impacts are realised.

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