Every year, millions of unwanted clothing items from the fast-fashion industry are donated to secondhand “mitumba” markets throughout Sub-saharan Africa.
In Ghana, for instance, 15 million articles of clothing are shipped to the country’s ports every week to be resold in their capital city. Unfortunately, however, many of those clothing items are in extremely poor condition and will never be worn or sold. But because Ghana—like many other African countries—does not have the infrastructure to deal with such high amounts of textile waste, it is estimated that 40% of clothing items shipped to Ghana end up being dumped into landfills or polluting local waterways.
Tumba seeks to provide a solution to Africa’s textile waste issue by collecting landfilled cotton textiles and chemically recycling them into new synthetic fibers through the process of acid hydrolysis. Those fibers could then be woven into new clothing items and exported to foreign markets to be sold for a profit.
Tumba’s goal is to focus on recycling textile waste from African resale markets, while relying primarily on African labor. In the process, we hope to clean up as much waste and provide fair wages to as many African workers as possible, becoming a new part of the mitumba industry that can further stimulate Africa’s fast-growing economies.