Exports of Nordic Used Textiles

Fate, benefits and impacts

image of Exports of Nordic Used Textiles

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ Green Growth Initiative highlighted the need for comprehensive collection, reuse and recycling of used textiles as part of a circular economy.

Over 100 000 tonnes of used textiles are already collected each year in Nordic countries. This is for the most part carried out by charities to fund their charitable activities. Around three quarters of these textiles are sold on global markets.

Does the export of used textiles support the circular economy through reuse and recycling, or are we simply exporting waste to countries that don’t have the facilities to deal with it? And does the export have a negative effect on textile industries in receiving countries?

This report answers these questions by tracking flows of exports to their final destinations, and by estimating the socio-economic and environmental impacts arising from their subsequent treatment.



Poland country study

Poland was chosen as one of the study countries as it represents the largest receiver of used textiles directly exported from the Nordic region, and because all the textiles exported to Poland are wholly or relatively unsorted. It also has a large new textiles industry. The specific focus of the study in Poland was to find out what happens to the waste sorted from the original, to identify job creation in the used textile sector and identify whether the used textile imports have impacted negatively or positively on the national textile industry.


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