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Top ten EU countries for recycling clothes

Earlier this year, Europe’s worst offenders for burning and binning clothes were revealed. Yet energy comparison site SaveOnEnergy found one of the positives of the current pandemic is a change in attitude toward old textiles and how we recycle clothes.

Research by SaveOnEnergy found that Google searches for “organise closet” have increased by 53% since January 2020 and up to 2,500 people a month have taken to Google to search for “how to organise a closet.”

Speaking with Gill Hasson, esteemed author of "Declutter Your Life: How Outer Order Leads to Inner Calm", she tells people to ask themselves the following seven questions when contemplating whether to keep or recycle old clothes:

  1. Do I feel good when I wear it?

  2. Do I look good when I wear it?

  3. Am I comfortable in it?

  4. Is it out of fashion and not coming back? And even if it did, am I likely to want the updated version?

  5. Has my lifestyle changed? Maybe you used to work in an office but now work freelance from home, so you don’t need ‘office clothes.’

  6. Does it hold any sentimental value?

  7. Does it need cleaning or altering?

Demand for recycling centres

Gladly, it seems, many of us are intent on clearing out our closets in an environmentally friendly way rather than burning and binning. In fact, there has been a reported 500% surge in Google searches like “when will recycling centres open” after many were shut down due to Covid-19. Delta Global, packing provider and retail expert, adds:

“The obvious benefits of reusing, recycling and re-purposing old items we find while cleaning out our cupboards are the environmental ones. There are also clear cost savings that can be made by maximising the life of items we’ve already purchased. A less obvious benefit is the positive impact it can have on our emotional and psychological well-being, particularly in a time full of stress, adversity and boredom.”

Which EU country has been most inspired to organise closets and recycle old clothes?

SaveOnEnergy found Google searches like “Clothes Recycling” are currently highest in Ireland. In fact, in the last 30 days, 12,670 people in Ireland have taken to Google to inquire how to recycle old clothes. This is followed by clothes recycling searches in Germany (9,390) and the Netherlands (6,840.) At the other end of the scale we find countries like Luxembourg, Slovenia, and Slovakia. In Luxembourg just 330 people a month search for keywords like “Clothes Recycling.” While in Slovenia and Slovakia, it’s as low as 300 and 270 searches a month, respectively.

Top ten EU countries for recycling clothes

  1. Ireland

  2. Germany

  3. Netherlands

  4. France

  5. Spain

  6. Poland

  7. Italy

  8. Denmark

  9. Sweden

  10. Czechia

Top 10 EU countries recycle these items most

Apparently, the five most worn items of clothing worldwide are t-shirts, jeans, shoes, underwear and coats. SaveOnEnergy analysed search volumes in deeper detail to find out which of the most-worn items of clothing are recycled most in each of the top ten EU countries listed above. Shoes and jeans vie for top place! The results show shoes are the most recycled item of clothing in 70% of the ten countries analysed, including Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain. While jeans are the most recycled item of clothing in 30% of the ten countries analysed, including Germany, France, and Italy.

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*Methodology Saveonenergy.com/uk inputted several keyword variations like “Clothes Recycle”, “Clothes Donation”, and “Textile Recycling” into the keyword analytics section of online visibility and marketing tool SEMrush. Results for all 27 EU countries were inputted and analysed individually, before final results were listed.