New analysis of recovered UK textiles market now available

8th March 2016

Key market developments for recovered UK textiles*, including trends in supply, demand and prices have 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 summarises 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%, 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

Marcus Gover, Director at WRAP, said: “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 and clothing industry is the 5th largest contributor to the UK’s carbon footprint. Reducing the environmental impact of UK clothing and textiles is a key part of WRAP’s work. To do so WRAP is working with industry through the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) in the UK, and more widely in Europe through the European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP). 

The Textiles Market Situation Report joins a series of reports produced by WRAP that examine current economic conditions and trends in the markets for recovered materials**.  An updated Market Situation Report on plastics is due out later this month.  

View the Textiles Market Situation report at


Notes to editors:

* clothing and non-clothing excluding carpets and mattresses

**other market situation reports cover metal, glass, paper, plastic, wood, organics and Chinese markets for recovered paper and plastics. View these here - 

Key facts

  • Extending the life of clothes by an extra nine months of active use would reduce the carbon, water and waste impacts by around 20-30%
  • Providing 1 tonne of clothing for direct re-use e.g. donate to a charity shop or sale through eBay can result in a net GHG saving of 11 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.  

About WRAP: WRAP’s vision is a world where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership with governments, businesses, trade bodies, local authorities, communities and individuals looking for practical advice to improve resource efficiency that delivers both economic and environmental benefits. @WRAP_UK

Our mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable resource-efficient economy through: 

a. re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products,

b. re-thinking how we use and consume products, and

c. re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling.


First established in 2000, WRAP is a registered charity.  WRAP works with UK governments and other funders to help deliver their policies on waste prevention and resource efficiency.  WRAP is a registered Charity No 1159512 and registered as a Company limited by guarantee in England & Wales No 4125764. Registered office at Second Floor, Blenheim Court, 19 George Street, Banbury, Oxon, OX16 5BH.

For further information contact:

Clare Usher, PR Officer

01295 819619


Clare Usher

PR Officer
01295 819678