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Chile concern at ‘fast fashion’ imports

Environment officials in Chile have called on governments in western Europe and the US to help prevent thousands of tonnes of clothing being illegally dumped in the Atacama Desert.

These so-called ‘fast fashion’ mountains are the unwanted result of around 60 000 tonnes of second-hand and unsold clothing being imported into the Alto Hospicio free zone. It is estimated that one-third are sold on but an estimated 39 000 tonnes end up in the desert.

With no legal means of disposal, piles of textiles are burned, releasing toxic fumes and polluting the ground. The Chilean government insists it is struggling to regulate the trade.

Miss Rojas, director of the Chilean Centre for Climate Science and Resilience and expected to become the country’s environment minister in March, has warned of ‘environmental consequences for the whole planet’.

Rojas told the BBC: ‘It’s not easy to reconcile so many interests such as prohibiting the dumping of used clothing. It’s not feasible. Businesspeople need to play their part and stop importing rubbish, but developed countries also need to take responsibility.’

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