Ever wondered where do the rest of the summer tops go when the season is over? What about all the warm winter knits when spring arrives? What happens to the so-called deadstock?
Textile waste is a huge problem, and it is created in many different phases of the clothing production. In addition to cutting waste, the surplus stock is another type of textile waste, which is invisible to most of us consumers. Surplus stock means those pieces that are not sold from stores or other distribution channels – the demand doesn’t face amount of clothing manufactured. This is an unpleasant topic for multinational clothing companies and despite many attempts, not revealed. According to Outi Les Pyy’s experience, the surplus stock can be up to 30-50% of the amount purchased in, depending on the product of course.
The most popular ways to empty stocks are probably seasonal sales or outlet-stores. Nevertheless, these do not vanish the whole pile of unsold clothes and therefore, doesn’t solve the problem.
Giving a second round for surplus clothes and fabrics is also a way to handle textile waste. There are several brands in Weecos that manufacture new products from industrial surplus fabrics, as stated before, but garment stores do not give their surplus stock to reuse. Instead, the clothes are being destroyed by cutting or by burning. At the end of the year 2017, H&M, for example, was stated to burn usable, unsold clothing.
If not this, clothes are being dropped to charity shops, where only a small percentage of the donated clothes can be sold, or shipped to developing countries, which only moves the problem of textile waste forward. Just recently BBC published that the demand for used clothes is declining worldwide. In other words, developing countries do no longer want our used garments as they are a waste problem for them too. It would also be better that the developing countries supported their local production also when buying clothes. Jobs would be created, and the money would stay in the country. And not to forget that shipping used clothes worldwide creates.
So what would be the sustainable solutions for handling textile waste? In EU, textiles should be recycled separately by the end of the year 2025. The aim of this is to support the circular economy and to decrease the amount of waste ending up in landfills and being burned. However, recycling clothes as new fabrics or to third parties doesn’t solve the problem of overproduction. We should be producing much, much fewer textiles, for sure. In that pre-sales is one solution. But we should also start making purchasing decision so that the clothes are wanted to be worn several years, not only once or twice.
So how do the brands in Weecos handle their surplus stocks? That’s something we will inform you next week so stay tuned!