Uncovering the Dire Consequences of Exporting Plastic Clothes Waste to Developing Countries: Insights from a Recent Documentary, Trashion.
The Dutch NGO, Changing Markets Foundation, has recently produced a documentary that sheds light on a legal loophole allowing the export of concealed plastic waste to the Global South, exemplified by the plight of Kenya and the dire consequences of fast fashion. In 2021, Belgium sent 600,000 kilograms of used clothing to Kenya, half of which was unusable waste. A staggering 66% of this waste contained plastic, which will not decompose and has been relegated to landfills or used as fuel. The Dutch NGO’s investigative report, titled “Trashion,” provides further details on this issue.
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Trashion : The devastating impact of exporting waste plastic clothes to the Global South
The findings of an inquiry into the covert waste generated by the fashion industry have brought to light a disturbing reality: in 2021, the European Union dispatched over 37 million plastic garments to Kenya, unmasking the inequitable consequences of Europe’s insatiable thirst for fast fashion on the Global South.
Every day in Kenya, about 150 to 200 tonnes of textile waste – between 60 to 75 truckloads – ends up being dumped, burnt, or sent to overflowing dump sites. Dandora, the largest landfill in East Africa, happens to sit at the edge of Gikomba Market, the bustling heart of the second-hand clothing industry in Nairobi.
The According to the founder and patron of Clean Kenya, Betterman Simidi Musasai, “a large proportion of clothing donated to charity by well-meaning people ends up this way. Why? Because the backbone of the fast fashion industry is plastic, and plastic clothing is essentially junk.”
One way or another, a polyester t-shirt can continue to cause harm for years after it’s been “donated.” With no way for it to be recycled, it will most likely end up in a landfill or floating in the ocean as microplastic fibres, contributing to the disappearance of marine ecosystems.
Even in the most useful iterations of its second life, the t-shirt might be downcycled into rags or used as fuel by poor communities somewhere in the Global South, causing adverse health effects to whomever happens to be within range of the burning plastic.
Webinar from The Ground Zero Of the Fast Fashion World
Don’t miss out on the chance to delve deeper into the topics covered in the recent documentary, #Trashion. Register now for the upcoming webinar on March 2nd, where we will be joined by top experts from around the world to discuss the issue of plastic waste clothing exported to Kenya and provide additional insights into our groundbreaking investigative report. Sign up here