Containers of textiles arrive on the continent every week – causing problems for companies and the environment. A European supply chain law should help. Consumers are also in demand.
The federal government has drawn attention to the problem of the mass shipment of second-hand clothes to West Africa. In Ghana, for example, so many used textiles and textile waste arrive that domestic production has a hard time and enormous environmental problems are caused.
“I think you also have to raise awareness among consumers,” said Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil. When it comes to consumption, you can be more careful and think a little more about what you buy. High- and middle-income people in Western countries also buy many things that they hardly need.
Around 100 containers every week
Heil and Development Minister Svenja Schulze (both SPD) visited one of the world’s largest second-hand markets in Ghana’s capital Accra during their trip to West Africa, which lasted until Friday. Around 100 containers with around 15 million articles arrive here every week, some from Germany.
Consumers could shop more consciously, said Heil. “But you can’t dump it on consumers alone, it’s a state and corporate responsibility,” said the minister. The federal government supports the EU Commission in the European supply chain law currently in preparation.
German supply chain law has little impact
The directive also stipulates that companies must pay more attention to ensuring that their finished products do not cause major problems as recycled material or waste. The German supply chain law, on the other hand, can do little, admitted Heil. The German law that came into force at the beginning of the year stipulates that companies must comply with human rights during production.
An example of the scope of the German law is cocoa cultivation in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Children are often used as workers here. In such cases, chocolate manufacturers face future penalties under German law. Today Schulze and Heil travel on from Ghana to the Ivory Coast. A visit to a cocoa plantation is also planned there.