UK second largest exporter of used clothing after the US to Ghana

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2015-02-13 15:00:00 – Ghana

The Western world's growing desire for fast, disposable fashion, fueled by the ready supply of cheap goods manufactured in China and elsewhere, means people are consuming and then disposing of an ever greater quantity of garments. Ghana is the second highest receiver of used clothes from the United Kingdom (UK).

According to the United Nations Comtrade database, Ghana spent $65 million on importing used clothes from the UK, in 2013 which were donated to charity homes but ended up being bought by new owners as they were traded off for profit as per the BBC.

The UK is the second largest used clothing exporter after the US. It exported more than £380m ($600m), worth of discarded fashion overseas in 2013.

The 10 top destinations in 2013 were Poland, Ghana, Pakistan, Ukraine, Benin, Kenya, Hungary, Togo, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and The Netherlands, the UN figures indicated.

The US's key trade partners are Canada, Chile, Guatemala and India.

The flow of old clothing from the Western world as well as the availability of cheap, new garments from East Asia - has had a negative effect on local textile industries in many countries. This was particularly so in Sub-Saharan Africa, where a third of all globally donated clothes are sold, said Dr Andrew Brooks, a lecturer in development geography at King's College London, in his book Clothing Poverty. Many donors don't realize that the majority of the cast-offs they hand over to charity will be traded abroad for profit

Dr Brooks pointed to Ghana as an example of a country where local industries have been particularly negatively affected.

In fact, the rise of fast fashion in Britain has helped fuel a multi-billion pound second-hand clothing industry in Africa, providing countless people with a livelihood, but also worryingly damaging local textile manufacturers in these developing nations.

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