The import of second clothes from China
Across the Pearl River Delta region, tens of thousands of second-hand clothing vendors are active in collecting clothes from various communities every day. They are the most cutting-edge international buyers in Africa.
Second-hand clothes collected by them are transferred to a transit station, where they are passed on to trading companies that specialize in the trade.The old clothes would go through a screening process at the hands of trading companies, with the worse ones chopped up and mixed with cotton to make industrial cloth, and the better ones packed in containers and sent to Africa.
Most second-hand clothes across the country will go the same way
The import of second-hand clothes from China has long been an open secret in Africa.
Second-hand clothes are common throughout Africa, from Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d ‘Ivoire, Tanzania, to Benin, Uganda and Kenya.
Second-hand clothing markets in these countries are crowded every day with wholesalers looking for goods.Only those with good relations with the boss can be informed of the arrival of the Chinese container at the first time.
Clothes are bundled into huge squares in piles, and buying clothes here is like buying a giant fortune bag.No one knew what kind of clothes they were carrying back in their bags.
Many vendors will get their second-hand clothes for cleaning, ironing, cutting and other reprocessing, and then re-enter the market.
Second-hand clothes bought at 60 yuan per kilogram in China have been transformed in African open-air markets after rounds of transfer, and can be sold for dozens of RMB.
Many Africans do not even think about the pros and cons of buying second-hand clothes. The key is that they are so cheap.Even the local middle class browse the second-hand clothing market to pick up their favourite clothes.
In the documentary The Secret of Old Clothes, a local said: “Second-hand clothes can be worn directly when you buy them home, while traditional clothes have to be specially tailored and are very expensive.”
Statistics show that the average Chinese person buys about 10 pieces of new clothes every year, of which 3-5 pieces are discarded.About 50 million tons of clothes are thrown away every year, with less than 10 percent recycled.
In 2018, China was the world’s fourth largest exporter of second-hand clothing, with a total of US $280 million in second-hand clothing exports, more than 70 percent of which went to the African market.
Most of China’s second-hand clothes end up in countries such as Kenya, Angola, Nigeria and Tanzania.
When a piece of clothing travels around the world, it spawens a huge industry of people who transport, pack and sell it.
The topic has also aroused heated discussion on the Chinese Internet, with many people asking, “Are our clothes, which we donated for free, turned into goods that some people resell for profit?”
They simply vowed never to donate clothes again.
Others think it is understandable. After all, it is hard for anyone to promote this business without profits, and it is a win-win situation for waste to continue to be used.