By Sonya Dowsett and George Obulutsa
MADRID/NAIROBI, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Clothes recycling is the pressure-release valve of fast fashion, and it’s breaking under COVID-19 curbs.
The multi-billion-dollar trade in second-hand clothing helps prevent the global fashion industry’s growing pile of waste going straight to landfill, while keeping wardrobes clear for next season’s designs. But it’s facing a crisis.
Exporters are struggling, as are traders and customers in often poorer nations from Africa to Eastern Europe and Latin America who rely on a steady supply of used clothes.
The signs are everywhere.
From London to Los Angeles, many thrift shops and clothing banks outside stores and on streets have been deluged with more clothes than could be sold on, leading to mountains of garments building up in sorting warehouses.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began early this year, textile recyclers and exporters have had to cut their prices to shift