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Charity fights back against clothing bank theft

A leading textile recycler has claimed progress in the battle against theft from clothing banks.

Matt George, Oxfam’s head of trading logistics, told the Textile Recycling Association (TRA) that the charity had suffered 331 thefts in 2012 worth up to £2m.

George said it was countering such crime by appointing a security consultant, replacing the stock of bins with more theft-proof models and emptying the bins more often.

After initial frustration at a lack of police support, he added, an improved relationship had resulted in 96 investigations, 24 prosecutions and the jailing of six people.

George was speaking at a reception to mark the TRA’s 100th anniversary at the Palace of Westminster on Tuesday. It was hosted by Conservative MP Tracy Crouch who praised its members for being “an important industry to UK plc”.

Another speaker, Mervyn Jones, head of products and materials at WRAP, charted the development of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) which is intended to improve the sustainability of clothing across its life cycle and is expected to be formalised in June.

Representatives of industry, government and the third sector are working on sector targets for design; reuse and recycling; influencing consumer behaviours; and metrics.

Jones thanked the TRA for its contribution to the process: “We need enthusiastic and vibrant trade associations – you play a really critical role”.

TRA director Alan Wheeler said the reputation of the TRA was “probably the highest” it had ever been.

“Over the next few years, our members can expect to see significant legislative drivers and other initiatives that will increase textile diversion rates from landfill and the TRA will play a significant role in steering these,” he said.

Wheeler also praised WRAP: “The work that WRAP and other bodies are undertaking is providing our industry with a fresh set of eyes. It is very important we listen to them and act accordingly because, if we don’t, someone else will. “

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