A giant pile of clothes has formed in the middle of the Antacama desert in Chile. It has been spotted on satellite images.
Seen from the sky, Chile reveals all its treasures: volcanoes, thousands of kilometers of Pacific coast, the Atacama desert and… a disproportionate landfill of used clothes. This was revealed in a May 10 Twitter post by American satellite imagery company SkyFi, which mobilized its community on its Discord forum to locate the dump. The photo, taken above the town of Alto Hospisio, north of Santiago, shows an area where the bluish masses stand out against the brown tones of the Antacama desert floor. The 1.8km racing circuit at O’Higgins Park, which can be seen just below, gives a relative idea of what a vast textile dump it really is. And so confirms the extent of this graveyard of disposable fashion.
39,000 tons of clothing in the Chilean desert
In September 2021, it was images by journalist Martin Bernetti for AFP that first drew attention to the discharge from Alto Hospicio. His report states that, according to Chilean authorities, 46,285 tons of used clothing entered the country through the port of Iquique, 20 km away, that year. Becoming a secondary fashion platform, the country receives consignments from all over the world with the aim of reselling them throughout Latin America. However, he runs into a traffic jam. As a result, approximately 39,000 tons of shirts, jackets, pants and other fashion items currently complete their journey through this desert area.
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Located near the poorer neighborhoods of Alto Hospicio, the dump is frequented by men and women looking for parts that can be resold. The rest of the waste is meant to slowly decompose, leading to soil contamination with chemicals and synthetic fibers contained in clothing. To counter this phenomenon, some local private companies, such as EcoFibras or Ecocitex, have specialized in textile fiber recycling solutions, turned into new yarns for the former or, in the case of the latter, into building insulation. In turn, the government passed the REP (Extended Producer Responsibility) law in 2016 to regulate recycling. The fact remains that textiles are not included in the list of priority products specified by this text of the law. Seven years later, it is clear that the problem of storing textile waste in the desert is not yet a priority.
Source: Le Figaro