Lower demand: New analysis of recovered UK textiles market now available

Clothe checking (Foto: IGC / Axion)

Banbury, UK — The textiles and clothing industry is the 5th largest contributor to the UK’s carbon footprint. Key market developments for recovered UK textiles, including trends in supply, demand and prices have now been explored in a Textiles Market Situation Report – a new resource now available. The succinct report, compiled by UK resource efficiency experts, WRAP, looks at the market past and present. It summarizes key trends and highlights opportunities for creating new sustainable end markets in the UK and abroad.

Key themes in the report include:


  • Around 1.7 million tonnes of UK textiles are consumed every year, 1.1 million tonnes of which is clothing
  • Clothing consumption in the UK is rising


  • The amount of textiles collected for re-use and recycling increased from 2010, reaching a peak at an estimated 650,000 tonnes in 2014. However preliminary data suggests that in 2015 textiles collected fell by around 4 per cent, partly due to a decrease in the price that operators can get for used textiles in the various end-markets

End markets:

  • The main destination for used UK textiles is overseas. However overseas demand for used UK textiles has started to decrease and prices have been falling since 2013
  • Recent trends highlight the need for a wide range of sustainable end-markets. These include re-use markets at home and overseas, as well as developing recycling grade markets for textiles that aren’t suitable for re-use, including fibre-to-fibre options


  • The unit value of UK exports of used textiles fell by 13 per cent in 2014, falling in 13 out of the top 15 destination countries. The value of exports per tonne fell by another 10 per cent in the first eleven months of 2015 overall – although it did increase year-on-year in both October and November 2015. The downward trend in 2014 and 2015 partly reflects lower demand (as seen in the stalling of export volumes in 2014 and their actual decline in 2015) as well as related factors such as the appreciation of the pound against the Euro – reducing competitiveness of UK exports and putting downward pressure on prices.

Marcus Gover, Director at WRAP, commented: “The sector is facing a challenging time and having access to this in-depth information and analysis, summarised in one place, provides useful insights to help inform their business decisions.”

Alan Wheeler, Director at Textile Recyclers Association, said: “We are delighted that WRAP has produced this important market report in a timely manner. The used clothing industry is going through an extremely difficult period both here in the UK and globally. Political and economic pressures are being put on existing markets and this report shows that resultant UK collections actually decreased slightly in 2015. Yet consumption of new clothing is continuing to rise, with clothing prices still generally much lower than they used to be. Continuing downward pressure on prices for used clothing is inevitable for some time to come. The UK needs to take a longer more strategic view on how to develop new markets which need to be less reliant on used clothing exports and consideration of how to finance these developments needs to be given a high priority.”

The Textiles Market Situation report can be downloaded under wrap.org.uk.

Source: Waste Resources and Action Programme (WRAP)