Textiles, Fashion, Sports and Footwear

Textile Recycling Scandal

Another scandal relating to recycling; this time from the textiles industry.

Lack of Transparency

Our waste management and waste valorisation systems are not transparent and not sustainable. Many people have shut their eyes and ears for too long when it comes to waste management.

I have to ask this question: Is our waste recycling industry a house of card? And who’s responsible for it?


What happens to our domestic waste ? In Europe, we have outsourced our waste processing and recycling activities. A lot of our waste is sent abroad, mostly Asia.

However, two things have changed (1) China decided to stop importing plastic waste from western countries in 2018, and (2) numerous scandals have erupted.

Plastic recycling scandals usually relate to plastic waste sent from Western countries to Asia and fit the following scenarios

  • Recyclable plastic waste will not be recycled but will be incinerated, landfilled or dumped in the open environment or oceans.
  • Most of the plastic waste is not recyclable although it was registered as recyclable plastics waste.
  • The recycling operations are not sustainable; the energy used for the recycling operations is generated by coal for instance.


There’s another scandal in the making: textile waste send to third world countries is being recycled by children.

Western European textile waste will transit through Eastern Europe and end up in Panipat, India, where it will be recycled by children.

The waste is recycled into yarns, bed sheets and carpets. These products are send back to the EU and to the US. US is the biggest recipient.

H&M seems to be the Western multinational company who bought the most recycled textile coming from Panipat.

Human Right Policies

Two observations:

  • Textile companies have concentrated their efforts auditing the suppliers of new clothing and textile; but have missed out on the textile recyclers.
  • Multinationals should audit their suppliers but also the suppliers of their suppliers. The textile recyclers supply the manufacturers of new products.


Europe and US point their fingers at Asian countries blaming them for the mismanagement of the recycling operations. However, it’s usually waste coming from Western countries that is at stake in those scandals.

Whenever Europeans are involved in a scandal, Americans are never too far .. and they’re usually always better than Europeans.

Why did the Indian textile industry rely on children? To face competition with China. China is very often the cause of scandals. What are the moral standards of the Chinese government? What are the morals standards of Western Governments and multinationals who have closed their eyes for so long when it comes to China?


Kinderarbeid bij recycling van Nederlandse kleding in India

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