Dwindling sales and mounting donations have spelled doom for the market for buying recycled clothing, Reuters reported.
Since the pandemic began in March, textile recyclers and exporters have had to cut rates amid lockdown measures restricting peoples’ movements as well as a slow-down in international shipping.
But the donations have become abundant, especially as people used their time in quarantine to clean out their residences of things they didn’t need. The donations have become so plentiful that some have had to turn them down. One of those, Antonio de Carvalho, boss of a textile recycling company in Stourbridge, central England, wrote in an email that he is “reaching the point where our warehouses are completely full,” Reuters reported.
Carvalho, who pays towns for clothing collected in donation bins and sells it at profit to traders overseas, said he’s seen the price he can charge buyers fall from 570 pounds (about $737) to 400 pounds (about $517). That makes it difficult for him to cover the costs of running his business, Green World Recycling, Reuters reported.
In Kenya, there were 176,000 tons of imports of clothing in 2018, equivalent to more than 335 million pairs of jeans, according to Reuters. Traders in the country have faced adversity from all sides — with diminishing supply, less foot traffic and a government ruling that banned imported textiles for fears they could be carrying COVID-19, although that was lifted in August.
And waste is piling up. In the U.S., tens of millions of tons of clothing end up in landfills, adding to pollution, Reuters reported, in spite of companies like Zara owner Inditex and H&M encouraging customers to bring in unwanted clothes.
Poshmark, which specializes in selling used clothing, filed for an initial public offering (IPO) earlier in September, having come off a successful period in which it racked up 100 million resale transactions as of February. Founder and CEO Manish Chandra said resale popularity is coming from peoples’ desire to shop in new ways and get the most value as they can.
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