Local Authorities, land owners and charities – please perform due diligence before appointing new clothing/textile bank operators

The Textile Recycling Association (TRA), the UK’s only recognised trade association for collectors and processors of used clothing and textiles is reminding local authorities, landowners and charities of the importance of undertaking due diligence before they appoint any new clothing/textile bank operators to operate in their area.   The association is hearing of increasing incidents where local authorities in particular have appointed new textile bank operators that do not have the correct licenses, permits or exemptions in place let alone any significant experience in the areas of textile bank collections.  Working with such textile collectors runs the risk of reputational damage and could undermine the financial security of professional operators that are needed more than ever to help tackle the very real problems of climate change that are being caused by our increased consumption of fashion and textiles.

Alan Wheeler, Director of the TRA said “this issue seems to have come to the fore in the last year or so and in particular during the second and third national lockdowns in England.   A number of new small businesses, that are not substantive, have been struggling to secure collections from other sources. In particular with charity shops having been closed for all bar a few weeks since early November, some are chancing their arm at textile bank collections.   Such businesses often don’t have even an upper tier waste carrier’s licence and invariably they do not have relevant environmental permits or exemptions in place, that are required to legally store or process textile waste.”

As an incentive these businesses try to tempt local authorities and landowners into allowing them to site their banks on their land by offering inflated prices for what they collect which is well above the market value.    Alan Wheeler said of this “the reality is, that when they do this, it is not sustainable.  Some will either just disappear after a few months without paying anything and may move to different areas, others may systematically under-declare what they collect.  If they are able to continue paying these prices then serious questions need to be asked about where they are cutting their costs”.

It is anticipated that the new voluntary industry standard for TRUST will be rolled out later in the year.   Likes so many things, this has been delayed by the Covid 19 outbreak.   In the meantime, the key recommendation for local authorities and all landowners is to make sure that all bank operators they are working with are members of the Textile Recycling Association.   The trade association already has detailed admissions procedures in place and necessary checks are undertaken on licences, permits, exemptions, insurance, employment records and other key matters to ensure that only businesses that adhere to environmental legislation, employment law and other vital aspects of business law are admitted to the Textile Recycling Association.