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Biggest textile polluting nations in the EU listed, UK ranked 4th worst

By Huw Hughes


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The 15 nations in the EU creating the most textile pollution have been listed in a new study, with Italy, Portugal, Austria and the UK named the biggest culprits.

The study, published by Amsterdam-based menswear brand Labfresh, examined various factors to arrive at its conclusion, including the nations’ total amount of textile waste, spending on new clothing per person, the share of the clothing industry in the gross domestic product and the yearly export of worn clothing.

Italy was named the least sustainable nation in the study, with the country producing 465,925 tonnes of yearly textile waste and 7.7 kilograms of textile waste per person. With all factors considered, the country received an overall score of 100.

The following 14 nations on the list were Portugal (96.9), Austria (84.9), UK (59.1), Belgium (51.7), the Czech Republic (49.7), Denmark (47), Spain (45.7), Finland (44.4), Germany (43.5), the Netherlands (41.6), France (39), Ireland (34.1), Poland (28.3), and Hungary (0).

UK named 4th biggest textile waste polluter in Europe

The UK - which has the third biggest clothing industry in Europe in relative terms, representing 3.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) - was named the fourth most textile polluting nation in the list, producing 206,456 tonnes of yearly textile waste.

The average British consumer spends 980 pounds a year on new clothes - topped only by the average Austrian consumer who spends 1,080 pounds - and throws away around 3.1 kilograms of textiles every year. Of that amount, only 0.3 kilograms are recycled and 0.4 kilograms are reused, while 0.8 kilograms are incinerated and 1.7 kilograms are disposed of in landfills.

In relative terms, Belgians produced the most textile waste at 14.8 kilograms per capita of it per year, while Germany came in third place in terms of yearly exports of worn clothing, with 6 kilograms per capita going abroad each year.

Spain produced the least textile waste in relative terms at 2.1 kilograms per person.

Labfresh founder Kasper Brandi Petersen said in a statement: “The concept of Labfresh is based on new technologies and materials from the textile industry to keep clothes clean and fresh for a lifetime. By doing so, we all have to buy fewer clothes.

“Many great inventions come from Germany and Switzerland in particular, but, for some reason, the fashion industry often ignores them. We, on the other hand, believe that we can only cope with the enormous amount of textile waste if the industry continues to develop.”

Photo credit: Redress

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