Ghanaian used clothes dealers fight back against misperceptions

New academic research released from Ghana shows that waste in the second hand clothes sector (SHC) is dramatically lower than has been previously claimed.

The report released by the Ghana Used Clothing Dealers Association, showed that less than 5% of the second hand clothing imported into Ghana could be considered waste.

The report is the first such academic study and proves that the second-hand clothing market in Ghana is a robust and sustainable ecosystem that contributes towards the global circular economy.
Speaking on the report, Edward Atobrah Binkley, general secretary of the Ghana Used Clothing Dealers Association said: “The continued use of inaccurate information circulating in some parts of the media about the second hand clothes trade must stop. This report shows that the trade is low waste and an essential part of the global circular economy, providing a solution to the challenges of climate change and waste the world faces, as well as the over-consumption of fast fashion that is wreaking damage on a global scale. Policy makers should be extremely cautious before they further regulate an already well run and regulated, global trade based upon bad data and misleading figures.”

Binkley also asserted that the trade is also pivotal to Ghana’s economy and way of life, providing affordable clothing to millions while supporting livelihoods across the nation and contributing significantly to Ghana’s government tax revenues.

The report found that the SHC trade in Ghana serves as a cornerstone of the nation’s retail landscape, deeply ingrained in its cultural and economic fabric. The industry has evolved into a dynamic ecosystem, providing affordable clothing options to consumers while also supporting a significant proportion of Ghanaian livelihoods, stimulating economic activity and fostering entrepreneurship.

It also found that the trade was a noteworthy example of the circular economy in action; reducing waste, promoting resource efficiency and enabling sustainable consumption. The second hand clothes trade is an antidote to the detrimental effects of the global fast fashion industry which promotes exploitative labour practices, environmental degradation, excessive waste generation, and unsustainable consumption patterns.

The research, which found that on average a maximum of 5% of clothing in imported bales could be considered waste, demonstrated that the prevailing international perception is not only wrong, but economically unsound and patronizing.