waste are not the only contributors to the worrying global waste problem. Clothes are too. Earth.org reports that 92 million tonnes of textiles waste are produced globally, every year. This implies that a truck full of twaddle clothing ends up on landfill sites every day. Certainly, with the trend at which fast fashion continues, textile waste is expected to soar by 50 per cent by 2030. Earth.org states that just 12 per cent of materials used in clothing are recycled because of inadequate technologies to recycle them.
Clothing garments were once worn for decades because of their durability quality. However, arrival of fashion and the availability of low-cost clothes have increased clothing waste. The fashion industry is arguably one of the largest producers of waste and contributes to the climate change crisis, due to the large consumption of water during production.
African countries where most of these used clothes are exported to and sold cheaply are facing huge environmental waste crisis. Fast fashion has brought about mountains of trash being lodged in most developing countries. It adds that because less than one per cent of used clothing gets recycled into new clothing, castoffs from Europe and America are dumped in most African countries.
The Observatory of Economic Complexity, pegged Nigeria as one of the top five importers of used clothing with an annual fee of $124m.
Most worn clothes from Europe and America and donated to charities are sold at cheap prices in most African countries, consequently, making Africa a dumping ground for used clothes and contributing significantly to the mountain of textile waste.
To this, the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database in 2015 stated that global trade in used clothes witnessed steady growth over the last decade and a half, with global export reaching $4.8bn in 2015. East Africa was reported to have imported $151m worth of used clothes and shoes from Europe and the United States. Oxfam, stated that at least 70 per cent of donated used clothes end up in Africa. United States of America, the United Kingdom and Germany as the top three exporters of used clothes.
In 2019, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda decided to raise taxes on second-hand clothes imports as well as offer incentives to their local textile manufacturers. Sadly, only a few countries have implemented the ban, further making Africa saturated with heaps of clothes waste with risk of climate crisis.
At Nigeria's Bayero University, Kano, Faisal Abubakar, agreed that Africa had become a dump site for used clothes that gave the West an easy way to get rid of their cloth waste problem. He added that most of the imported used clothes were damaged and usually ended up in the landfill.
Abubakar said, “What happens in the West is that when you have something that you don’t use, you are encouraged to donate it to a charity and what the charity does is that they sell off at cheap prices to fund their activities. In doing so, the goods are being bought by traders in Africa at very low prices and when they buy them, they do not know the quality of what they are buying because the clothes are in bundles. Some of the clothes are damaged. It is a very uncertain type of business and it gives the Whites an easy way of getting rid of their waste problem.”
He added, “One other negative thing is that when you are importing such cheap second-hand textiles, it puts local producers under pressure because they will not be able to cope or compete with such goods. It also makes it difficult for our local brands to make clothes that are cheap and can compete with them."