I learnt something unique in the past few weeks. The size of the recycled clothing industry is mind-boggling and Pakistan get’s the lion’s share of this market.
Zari originally introduced this to us, but my curiosity was further fueled by my long-time friend Saad who filled me in with complete details. I’m left speechless by the sheer size of this industry.
Since 80 billion pieces of clothing are produced every year, more than 10 times the number of human beings in the world, it is obvious that every year there’s a lot of clothing waste. Since I buy roughly 5 pieces of clothes and hope them to last 5 years, I must admit I was shocked with the amount of production and could obviously imagine the wastage. But what happens to all this wastage? It’s sent to emerging economies like Pakistan for nearly free.
The west gets rid of their “waste” instead of using it to fill lands, or decompose in environmentally hazardous manner. Pakistan then puts a new soul in what is termed as a waste.
This wastage that comes to Pakistan is approximately about 1.5 billion pieces per year. This is 125 million pieces per month or 12.5 crore pieces of clothing.
After sorting, nearly 50% of this clothing is marked unfit for wearing and eventually goes into fiber extraction. The other half, which roughly comes down to 60 million pieces of fashion, are restored and made fit for wearing. But what surprised me the most is this fun part; a large chunk of what is restored as fit for wearing is then exported out of Pakistan.
Now I’ve given you the size of industry in terms of number of units, but not in terms of revenue. Pakistan as a country generates nearly $200 million out of export proceeds from these products.
Mind boggling, isn’t it?
Thanks Zari and Saad for the input.