France proposes EU ban on exports of used clothes

By Thomson Reuters Mar 14, 2024 | 8:21 AM

LONDON (Reuters) – France is proposing a European Union ban on exports of used clothes, the environment ministry told Reuters on Thursday, as governments look for new ways to tackle the worsening problem of textile waste.

United Nations trade data shows the EU exported 1.4 million metric tons of used textiles in 2022, more than twice as much as in 2000. The clothes can cause pollution in African countries where items that can’t be resold end up in dumps, the EU has said.

In total, Europe produces 5.2 million tons of clothing and footwear waste every year, according to the European Commission.

Along with Sweden and Denmark, who are backing the proposal, France is aiming for it to be discussed during an Environment Council meeting in Brussels on March 25, according to the ministry, which blames a throwaway attitude to clothing on “fast-fashion” retailers who benefit from overconsumption.

“Africa must no longer be the dustbin of fast-fashion,” France’s environment ministry said in a statement to Reuters. “We must reduce waste, and manage our own waste.”

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau in Paris, Writing by Helen Reid in London; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)