Businesses from the Social Economy sector in Brussels and Wallonia collected almost 23,000 tons of second-hand clothes in 2013, a figure which would practically double if people gifted all the clothing items they want to get rid of, stressed the Ressources network on Tuesday, whilst celebrating the European Week for Waste Reduction (November 22nd-30th). According to Ressources, which is a federation of about 60 Social Economy companies specializing in recycling and re-use of waste, on average people from Wallonia or Brussels throw away around 10kg of clothing annually. The 20 members of Ressources from the textile industry, such as Les Petits Riens and Oxfam-Solidarite, reclaim about 60%.
“These figures have stopped increasing,” laments Arabelle Rasse, communications officer at Ressources. “We suffer from private competition, but also from the worsening quality of clothing sold in low-cost stores. It is becoming difficult to re-use second-hand clothes,” she explains. Because of the economic crisis, people also now prefer online shopping, car-boot and garage sales, and charity donations. In addition, illegal entrepreneurs regularly organise pick up operations with no official permit, or steal clothes directly from plastic bags.
Developed by the Ressources network, the Solid’R (“standing together”) label is a guarantee that people’s donations will benefit a solidarity project. Thanks to the second-hand market, organisations using this label can offer overnight stays to homeless people, first aid kits for children in disaster zones, or educational support.
Just 5% of clothes donated are of adequate quality and fashionable. They are sold in Belgium. Approximately 55% are exported through partner NGOs, 25% are recycled and 15% must be incinerated as they can neither be re-used nor recycled. This is why Ressources stresses that people should only donate clothes in good condition.
Information about collection sites and sales premises can be found on the following website: www.res-sources.be.