Hundreds of millions of tonnes of clothing is set to be dumped in landfill this spring by UK consumers unaware that much of it can be reused or recycled, according to new research published today.
In total, UK consumers are set to throw out 680 million items this spring, with 235 million tonnes of clothing expected to end up in landfill, according to a survey of 2,000 shoppers commissioned by Sainsbury’s and Oxfam.
Three quarters of people said they expect to throw clothes in the bin this spring, with the average person ditching 19 items – seven of which will go straight into the rubbish.
The survey reveals as many as half of people are unaware that worn out or dirty clothing can be recycled. Men are more likely to send items to landfill than women, with 82 per cent saying they will bin items compared to 69 per cent of women.
Sainsbury’s has partnered with Oxfam to encourage consumers to donate all unwanted clothing at the supermarket’s instore recycling banks.
“If clothes go out with the rubbish, they’ll end up in landfill, so we’ve teamed up with Oxfam to help Britons become more charitable and environmentally savvy this spring,” Paul Crewe, head of sustainability at Sainsbury’s, said in a statement. “No matter if they’re worn out or grubby, we’re calling on shoppers to donate their unwanted clothes at recycling points in our stores across the UK – perfectly placed to fit into the nation’s everyday routine.”
The fashion industry is one of the most resource-hungry sectors of the global economy, with vast quantities of water and energy used in the production and manufacture of textiles.
A 2016 report from waste advisory service Wrap revealed extending the lifetime of clothes by an extra three months would cut the carbon, waste and water footprint of each garment by up to 10 per cent.
Clothing collected at Sainsbury’s is delivered to Oxfam, with more than 16.3 million garments collected and recycled last year.
“While recycling is now common-place for things like paper and plastics, it’s often overlooked when it comes to our clothes,” Crewe added. “But we’re trying to fix that and now have 340 donation points at our stores, so our customers can spruce their wardrobe in the knowledge that their old items will be making a difference elsewhere.”
Other retailers, including H&M and M&S, have also installed in-store recycling stations in an attempt to encourage shoppers to donate old clothes for reuse or recycling.