Exports of Nordic Used Textiles

Fate, benefits and impacts

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.