Here we answer frequently asked questions concerning all aspects of TEXAID and the recycling of used clothes:

Since the emergence of the paper-making industry in the early modern period.

Used clothes are collected in all countries.

TEXAID is made up of the TEXAID work group and TEXAID Textilverwertungs-AG. The TEXAID work group is a consortium of the aid organizations:

  • Swiss Red Cross
  • Winterhilfe Switzerland
  • Solidar Suisse
  • Caritas Switzerland
  • Kolping Switzerland
  • Relief Organisation of the Protestant Churches of Switzerland (HEKS)

The TEXAID work group runs TEXAID Textilverwertungs-AG together with a private investor in the form of a charity private partnership.

The six renowned Swiss aid organizations involved in TEXAID traditionally collected used clothes for their own direct aid programs. In 1978 they came together to found the collecting organization "TEXAID-Arbeitsgemeinschaft", and with the sorting facility in Schattdorf in Uri canton, created the conditions for the professional collection, sorting and recycling of used clothes and shoes. From the sales proceeds, the aid organizations receive money that directly benefits their relief work.

The aid organizations involved in TEXAID do not see it as their task to run a company that collects, sorts and recycles used clothes on a professional basis. For that reason they founded TEXAID Textilverwertungs-AG together with an expert in the field of used textiles recycling.

In recent years, there has been a steep increase in the global demand for good, wearable clothes. The reasons for this are as follows: In African countries, second-hand goods from Europe are a sought-after alternative to synthetic fiber textiles form Asia. In Eastern Europe the opening-up of the markets has resulted in greater need for good, fashionable clothing, the consequence of this being that demand has constantly increased. In Western Europe there has been a radical rethink among buyers, with the priority now being on conserving resources and the environment.

Our aim is to recycle textiles and thereby preserve resources. TEXAID achieves a second-hand value of up to 65 per cent. This puts us well above the European industry average of around 45 to 50 per cent.

  • Around 35 per cent of what we collect is heavily damaged textiles. Half of these, around 15 per cent, can be made into cleaning cloths that are used in industry for cleaning and polishing.
  • Another 15 per cent are sent for textile recycling – they are shredded and mixed with other materials as a raw material, or are made into insulating materials.
  • Only 5 per cent of the items collected are textile waste or non-textile materials that cost money to dispose of or that are sent for appropriate separate collection. The bottom line is that TEXAID achieves an exemplary reuse and recycling rate von 95 percent.

Throughout Switzerland, approximately 50,000 tonnes of used clothes and textiles are disposed of annually. Of this, TEXAID collects about 36,000 tonnes. The demand from clothing stores and crisis regions accounts for only a small part of the amount collected. The task is to recycle the large volume of the used textiles sustainably and in an environmentally responsible way so that no additional mountains of trash are created.

Working in close collaboration with our charity partners, we ensure that the proceeds made from the sale of used textiles support the aid organizations in the performance of their tasks. The charity organizations do not have the necessary know-how to process the large volumes of used clothes properly.

The sustainable recycling of used textiles involves a lot of work as well as high material, energy and staff costs, all of which must be covered.

TEXAID sells used clothes and shoes in many of its own second-hand shops and also exports sorted old clothes to Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. Unsorted textiles that have been separated from obvious waste are sold to sorting facilities in Italy, Belgium, Tunisia and Eastern Europe.

Some of the used clothes are exported to African countries.

There have repeatedly been negative reports in the media about the export of used textiles to Africa, with claims that used textile exports would destroy the local textiles industries there.

The decline of the textiles industries in African countries is due to many different factors:

  • International trade agreements such as the global Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (1995) and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (2000) encouraged the development of the textiles industry in certain African countries. The local textiles industry also vanished after these agreements expired. This occurred independently of the import of used clothing.
  • In recent decades, the international textiles industry has largely relocated to Asia where it has found low-cost production plants. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of jobs migrating to Asia not just from Africa but from Europe and America also.
  • In a statement by the German government in response to a question from the Alliance 90/Greens parliamentary party, local factors were held responsible for the decline of the domestic textiles industry. These include poor general economic framework conditions, political and legal instability, a lack of productivity in companies and the distortion of competition as a result of high customs duties on textile raw materials for example.

It should also be noted that the further processing of and trading in used textiles is an important part of the economy in many African countries that creates thousands of jobs.

Textile recycling can only exist without the sale of used clothes if the consumer pays for the textile recycling either directly or indirectly.