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Second-hand Clothing in Indonesia: From Import Ban to Local Thrifting

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A Closer Look at Indonesia's Second-hand Clothing Import Ban

Indonesia has banned used clothing imports, through the Minister of Trade Regulation (Permendag) No. 18 of 2021. The regulation aims to protect the local garment industry and mitigate health and safety concerns caused by imported second-hand clothing. As per the Foreign Trade Statistics Bulletin for December 2022, the total weight of imported worn clothing reached 26,224 kg, with a value of 272,146 USD throughout 2022 [1].

Indonesia has actively enforced the ban, resulting in a 90% decrease in the weight of imported used clothing in January 2023 compared to December 2022 [2]. In March 2023, Zulkifli Hasan, the Minister of Trade, led the burning of 7,363 bales of illegally imported worn clothing [3]. While burning illegally imported used clothing may diminish the textile waste problem, it can release harmful pollutants and potentially contribute to air pollution and harm human health. Despite the fact that the ban has limited the availability of affordable second-hand clothes imported from abroad, it is anticipated that the government's move will increase demand for local-made clothing and increase thrifting opportunities for local products, thus contributing to the circular economy by supporting local thrifting.

The burning of illegally imported used clothing

Source: Kemendag RI [3]

Moreover, the ban has helped the government address textile waste in the country. Import thrifting also contributes to textile waste and microfiber pollution when not properly managed. Due to the low recycling rate of textile waste, which is only about 15% [4], imported clothing that does not get thrifted ends up in landfills. Microfiber from the textile waste can contaminate the environment and invade terrestrial ecosystems. As the microfiber decomposes, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change [5]. To create a more sustainable fashion industry, supporting local thrifting, reducing the demand for fast fashion, and encouraging the use of biodegradable materials are crucial.


Why is Local Thrifting a Good Idea in Indonesia?

To move towards a circular economy, Indonesia should explore the benefits of local thrifting and supporting local fashion businesses. There are two options to thrifting: local and import thrifting. Local thrifting is the practice of buying and selling used clothing within the country [6]. While import thrifting is the practice of importing second-hand clothing from other countries to be sold in Indonesia. Imported secondhand clothing is often cheaper than locally made clothing, which makes it more appealing but the practice of import thrifting has proven to have negative impacts on the environment and affects small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Indonesia.

Higher demand for import thrifting could undercut the market for local products. This could lead to local SMEs closing and job loss, which negatively impacts the economy. Moreover, import thrifting can also contribute to fast fashion consumption. Imported second-hand clothing may be of lower quality and won’t last as long, leading to increased disposal and consumption of clothes.

The import thrifting market offers low prices

Source: BBC [7]

Local thrifting, in contrast, promotes a circular economy by reusing locally sourced clothes, supporting local businesses, and reducing unnecessary textile waste [8]. Local thrift stores can also offer unique items that cannot be found in mass-produced clothing stores. This allows local communities to generate income and reduce their ecological footprint. Shopping at local thrift stores not only saves money, but also supports the circular economy and provides unique, personalized items.



[1] Directorate of Distribution Statistics. “Buletin Statistik Perdagangan Luar Negeri Impor Desember 2022.” Badan Pusat Statistik. BPS-Statistics Indonesia, 2023.

[2] Directorate of Distribution Statistics. “Buletin Statistik Perdagangan Luar Negeri Impor Januari 2023.” Badan Pusat Statistik. BPS-Statistics Indonesia, 2023.

[3] Hakim, Arif Rahman. “Potret Mendag Zulkifli Hasan Bakar 7.363 Bal Baju Bekas Impor Ilegal ...” Kementerian Perdagangan RI, March 28, 2023.

[4] Stanescu, M.D. (2021) “State of the art of post-consumer textile waste upcycling to reach the zero waste milestone,” Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 28(12), pp. 14253–14270. Available at:

[5] Leal Filho, W. et al. (2022) “An overview of the contribution of the textiles sector to climate change,” Frontiers in Environmental Science, 10. Available at:

[8] Persson, O. and Hinton, J.B. (2023) “Second-hand clothing markets and a just circular economy? exploring the role of business forms and Profit,” Journal of Cleaner Production, 390, p. 136139. Available at:

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