Zimbabwe, 18th January 2023
Humana People to People today welcomed the conclusions of a new report by the European Recycling Industries Confederation (EuRIC) on the life-cycle assessment of European used textiles. The report conclusively proved that reuse is better for the environment than the production of new garments and in most cases, also better than recycling.
The report analysed three scenarios of reuse vs. new garments, covering different blends from 100% cotton over polycotton (mix of cotton and polyester) to 100% polyester, all produced in Asia and sold in Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Pakistan respectively. It confirms that the environmental impact of reuse is significantly lower than the production of new garments for all three categories.
The report also analysed reuse compared to production of new garments using recycled textile fibres; the conclusion is similar. Of course, the degree to which the environmental impact of reuse is lower than production of new garment depends on how much the purchase of a used item replaces the purchase of a new garment.
A spokesperson for Humana welcomed the report, saying:
“This report conclusively proves that reuse is as a far better way of respecting the environment than continuously producing new fast fashion or trying to recycle old clothes.
“Both recycling and new production take in considerably more resource, whereas for reuse, only transportation has an impact and this in itself is considerably less than the other options, which also need transportation anyway”.
Members of Humana People to People collected 131,000 tonnes of clothes in 2021, donated by 19 million people. By sorting and selling these, primarily for reuse, 802,000 tonnes of CO2 was saved. Clothes are sold for reuse in Europe, the Americas and Africa and account for 22% of the funds spent on social development projects throughout the Humana People to People movement. In addition, the second-hand clothes business creates more than 17,000 green jobs in the formal and informal sector combined.
We are part of a vibrant and highly developed sector, which contributes significantly to environment protection already. With the EU moving fast towards mandatory collection of all used textiles, it is essential that reuse both in Europe and globally is promoted, so as to get the maximum benefit for the environment.
EuRIC’s report can be found in full on https://www.euric-aisbl.eu/position-papers/download/1843/643/32