The Global Trade of Mixed Rags
The Global Trade of Mixed Rags, by EcoGoodz
In October of last year, Dr. Sheng Lu, of the Department of Fashion & Apparel Studies, University of Delaware put together a comprehensive analysis of the global apparel and textile trade. You can study her full findings on her blog.
Over the last 20 years, the value of mixed rags as a commodity in the global marketplace has steadily increased. Used textiles (including household textiles such as bulk linens) can be reused or can be broken down and respun into new products such as yarn, fill-fiber, upholstery stuffing, and carpet padding. Supply is increasing and so, too, is demand.
She identified the US and the UK as being the leading exporter of used clothing, including mixed rags and credential clothing. The US, she estimates, exports about 800,000 tons (1.6 billion pounds!) of used clothing bulk per year.
Surprisingly, according to Dr. Lu’s data, Pakistan is the leading importer of wholesale used clothing, followed by Malaysia and Russia, although the used clothing industry is very strong on the African continent. Africa is almost certainly the continent to which the largest proportion of used clothing is imported, though statistics for each individual country may be difficult to ascertain. Most of the clothing sent to African countries come from the US, Europe, India, and Pakistan. The South American continent is also a large importer of used clothing.
One of the more important points is that the used clothing industry is indeed global, impacting nearly all of Earth’s 7 billion people. As many as 80% of the world’s population buy and wear used shoes and used clothing. For some, used clothing is the only viable option for clothing; it being less expensive and high quality than clothing manufactured and offered for sale by local textile manufacturers and clothing companies.