In recent years, the proportion of textile waste has increased significantly. More and more items of clothing are being thrown away even though they are still in good condition. One of the reasons for this is the growing market for fast fashion products. Some large manufacturers are developing new collections, new trends and new fashion items at ever faster intervals. Something you bought yesterday is no longer trendy today and far too often ends up in the trash.

As a result, the 15 European countries listed below generate over 2 million tons of textile waste every year. Only a fraction of this is recycled: 8 % is recycled, 10 % is reused as a second-hand product. The remaining 82 % either end up in landfills (57 %) or are incinerated in a carbon dioxide-intense process (25 %).

The Fashion Waste Index shows the results of a comparative statistical analysis of textile recycling in Europe and was published by LABFRESH, a fair fashion label from Amsterdam. For this purpose, data from Eurostat (Statistical Office of the European Union) from 2016 was evaluated. 15 European countries were compared with regard to different parameters. A scale from 0 - 100 is intended to show which country handles used textiles most sustainably (0) and which does not (100).

Germany occupies the 10th place among the countries examined and still performs relatively well with 43.5 points. But: It is evident that more than 390.000 tons of textile waste are generated in Germany every year and that over 80 % of the resulting textile waste is disposed of without being recycled (landfills, incineration). This is definitely too much!

The LABFRESH study illustrates that still a lot needs to be done in terms of sustainability and that everyone of us can make a contribution. This is possible if, for example, we wear textiles longer, buy new products less often and pay attention to sustainable production conditions and durable materials when buying.

The following table shows the results of the study.
The columns show the following data from left to right:

  1. Country
  2. Total textile waste per year in tons
  3. Annual textile waste per person in KG
  4. Annually recycled textile waste per person in KG
  5. Annual reusable textile waste per person in KG
  6. Annual incinerated textile waste per person in KG
  7. Annual textile waste ending up in landfills per person in KG
  8. Spending per person/pounds per capita in 2018
  9. Annually exported worn clothing per person in KG
  10. Final score (0-100; 0 = most sustainable, 100 = least sustainable)

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You can find an overview and further information on the LABFRESH website.
Simply search LABFRESH, Fashion Waste Index in a search engine of your choice.

Author: Lea Marie