• Saturday, Aug 15, 2020
  • Last Update : 10:53 am

UK homes to discard 67m clothes after lockdown ends

  • Published at 02:27 pm June 28th, 2020
pile of clothes

It also forecasts two out of three people will give unwanted clothing items to charity in the coming weeks, but expresses concern that 14% could dispose of items in the general rubbish.

British citizens are set to dispose of 67 million clothing items once the United Kingdom (UK) ends its Covid-19 lockdown, says a survey.

The survey by non-profitable organization Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), titled “Citizen Insights: Textiles and Covid-19,” revealed the findings, which was conducted on 2,422 UK adults, from May 22 to May 24.

Families with children at home 53% say they have cleared out textiles during the lockdown versus 37% with no children at home, 18-34-year olds (50% vs. 33% of those aged 55+) and women (50% vs. 32% of men). 

The most common textile items the public sorted out during lockdown are clothes (37%) with outerwear making up the bulk – particularly t-shirts, blouses, jumpers, hoodies and sweaters.

People have also spent time sorting through their unwanted shoes, bedding, bags and handbags, accessories and household textiles.

WRAP also estimated that as many as 22 million pairs of shoes along with 67 million clothing items will soon be disposed of via charity shops, collection banks and other donation routes.

It also forecasts two out of three people will give unwanted clothing items to charity in the coming weeks, but expresses concern that 14% could dispose of items in the general rubbish.

Data reported to WRAP suggested that the equivalent of 184 million textile items had been cleared out, and 57% are still at home waiting to be disposed of as lockdown ends.

“We have been working with organizations from across the sector to prepare for when they reopen and the expected high levels of donations coming in, over a relatively short time period. Everyone can play a role in supporting the charity and textile reuse and recycling sector,” said WRAP Director Peter Maddox.

Our insights tell us that most people prefer to donate or recycle unwanted clothes, but with an unprecedented volume about to be unleashed it’s important that we all take a few simple steps so not to overwhelm the sector, he added.

“Whether you’re using a charity shop, textile bank, retail take-back scheme or kerbside collections, the golden rule is to check they are operating before you go. Call ahead or look online – check with your local authority – but please never leave clothes in front of a closed charity shop or a full textiles bank.”

Fighting to end textile waste

Textile waste is one of the most environmentally-damaging waste streams. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), textile production uses a staggering 98 million tons of non-renewable resources annually, producing 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

However, it appears as if consumer knowledge on the environmental impacts of clothing is on the rise and with this a determination to prevent textile waste.

WRAP’s survey found that the proportion of people concerned by the environmental impacts of clothing, and actively committed to stopping clothing waste, has risen from 31% of the population in 2017, up to 50% by 2020.

As well as sharing its latest survey findings with the charitable and recycling sector, WRAP has also communicated these results to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCRAP) 2020 Commitment, to assist in developing messaging by retailers and brands encouraging the public to donate textiles through in-store collection.

Textiles that protect the environment and people

In addition to its textiles survey, WRAP also published a new global research report which reveals consumers worldwide are demanding a textile industry that protects both the environment and people.

Produced in association with the World Resources Institute (WRI) with support from the Laudes Foundation, the “Changing Our Clothes: Why the clothing sector should adopt new business models” report surveyed citizens in India, the US, UK and Europe.

It found a potential mass market appeal for business models that priorities sustainability and equity. Participants showed significant support for ‘disruptor initiatives’ which generate economic benefits by prolonging the life of clothes such as clothing rental schemes, resale and repair options.

Proponents of sustainable fashion hope the Environment Bill, which is currently waiting to be discussed at committee stage, could bring an extended producer responsibility (EPR) for textiles, with producers taking responsibility for the costs of managing their products once they become waste.

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