Chile’s environment minister has called on the UK to ‘take responsibility’ and stop thousands of tonnes of clothes from western Europe and the United States being illegally dumped in the Atacama Desert.
Maisa Rojas warned that the huge ‘fast fashion’ mountains which are discarded and burned have ‘environmental consequences for the whole planet’.
The Latin American country has long been a hub of second-hand and unsold clothing made in China or Bangladesh, which passes through Asia, Europe, and North America before arriving in the Southern Hemisphere.
Around 60,000 tonnes of clothing arrive each year at the Iquique port in the Alto Hospicio free zone, where it is bought by clothing merchants or smuggled to other South American nations. But at least 39,000 tonnes that cannot be sold end up in rubbish dumps in the desert.
With no legal means of disposal, the piles of textiles are burned, releasing toxic fumes and polluting the ground. The Chilean government insists it is…