Ghanaian Used Clothing Dealers Association report

Textile Recycling Association backs key recommendations made by Ghanaian used clothing industry.

Following today’s publication by the Ghana Used Clothing Dealers Association (GUCDA) – “An Evaluation of the Socio-Economic and Environmental Impact of the Second-Hand Clothes Trade in Ghana”, the Textile Recycling Association is backing their call for policy makers in the global north to prioritise listening to African traders and to base their decisions and regulations on well-sourced academic data and evidence.

This research which the authors explain uses methodology that, has enabled them to gather comprehensive data from the ground up, providing a balanced and empirically grounded view of the SHC trade’s actual impacts, as opposed to relying on predominantly on anecdotal evidence or isolated case studies. It also concludes that the amount of textile waste contained within imports of used clothing into the country is up to 5%, with 56% of retailers reporting 1% or less waste in their clothing bales. This comes off the back of a report recently commissioned by the Dutch Government that 4% of the textiles in bales arriving in Ghana are unsellable and therefore waste, and reports from the Mitumba Association in Kenya that 2% of what is imported is waste.

“Of course we want to keep contamination of bales down to an absolute minimum,  However, there is growing evidence from properly researched sources that the amount of textile waste being imported in to African countries is dramatically less than the estimates of 40% or more that we see widely reported in the media, and which the Ghanaian traders are describing as being based on “deeply flawed research”.  Regretfully these figures are now finding its way into policy making papers and most notably in the recent proposal put forward by France (and backed by Sweden and Denmark) which resulted in headlines indicating that the EU might ban used clothing imports” – said Alan Wheeler – Chief Executive of the Textile Recycling Association.


The report goes on to highlight that the market in Accra is a highly environmentally sustainable textiles ecosystem, which extracts as much value out of materials it deals with as possible.  What the report clearly highlights is that some commentators are confusing what is actually a wider problem of general waste management.  If the second hand clothing trade were to be stopped overnight,  Ghanaians would still need to buy clothing.  Most likely this would be new, more expensive, but poorer quality fast fashion from China, which would still end up in the landfill sites and not fix the waste management issues.   Instead the Textile Recycling Association advocates that it would be far more sensible to implement waste management and recycling infrastructures in Ghana and elsewhere so that these countries can actually fully  participate in the movement towards a sustainable circular economy.

We also welcome news of the launch of the much needed African Used Clothing Traders Alliance to ensure that African voices are at the forefront, when it comes to deciding the future of the global used clothing industry.


Further Information

An Evaluation of the Socio-Economic and Environmental Impact of the Second-Hand Clothes Trade in Ghana (click here).

Destination of Dutch Used Clothing Report (click here)

Mitumba Consortium Association of Kenya visit –

Textile Recycling Association visit –

Press release from Ghana Used Clothing Dealers Association – click here