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Clothing reuse market is essential for circular economy challenge

Bulgarian ban on shoe imports is against EU single market principles and is bad policy. Below is a teaser of our latest textiles market analysis.

Signs continue to suggest that the current markets for used clothing are not in a good state. Reports from sub-Saharan Africa indicate that supplies are plentiful but that quality continues to be an issue.

Importers are demanding better quality whilst at the same time values are dropping. It continues to be a buyer’s market. So why would any Africa importer choose to continue doing business with people who are selling them goods that cannot be retailed? It makes no sense.

But it is not just African markets that are proving problematic. Reports from Bulgaria have highlighted problems there too, with a consignment being stopped from entering the country, because the authorities are taking a perverse view on their interpretation of the European waste codes and are attempting to ban the import of shoes.

Acting in silos

The Bulgarian authority’s interpretation is unprecedented. They contradict the views taken by other EU competent authorities and their actions constitute a barrier to free trade and the free movement of goods that is one of the main cornerstones of the EU single market. It also adversely affects legitimate Bulgarian trade, and anyone who trades with them, more than anyone else.

More worryingly, it is yet another case of officials in Government continuing to act in silos. State officials in all departments need to understand that their decisions can have massive implications for issues that may come under the control of other departments.

Beware high bidders

Any supplier that simply chases the highest payer is very likely to come unstuck because something will have to give. Hopefully whatever gives will be legal, such as clothing banks not being emptied.  If they don’t empty the banks, these operators will simply not have to pay for any clothing. Or maybe there will be a mutual agreement to terminate an agreement early.

However, sometimes what ends up happening is more sinister. Collections rates may be under-declared or the collectors may deliberately run up debts before closing down.

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