Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of MRW, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

The trouble with textiles

These are difficult times for the UKs textile recycling industry. Disintegrating markets and limited Government support are challenging even the toughest operators. But, things could get even worse. Rogue textile traders are springing up with alarming regularity and may ultimately prove to be the industrys greatest threat.

The unscrupulous nature of some of those operating textile collection and recycling services will come as no surprise to many. More worrying, however, is the increasing frequency and ferocity with which these organisations are targeting the industry.

Collection scams, profiteering and misrepresentation are just three of the charges that can be levelled at some of the organisations currently operating textile schemes in the UK.

And, while these outfits continue to tarnish the reputation of those who have built law-abiding businesses, the industry appears to acknowledge the problem while doing little to rectify it.

According to the Textile Recycling Association (TRA) these rogue traders are a very real problem and one that anyone with an interest in this sector should be at pains to avoid.

TRA national liaison manager Alan Wheeler said: We do not, at the moment, have a definitive list of dubious textile recyclers, but we have noticed an increase in what we would consider unscrupulous activities.

The association advises a cautious approach to new recycling activities. If there is any doubt about the nature of a business we would suggest that people contact us to verify the situation, Wheeler added.

Although the TRA is warning about bogus operators, the commercial sector and the public often remain unaware. Retailers sites are often used for textile-recycling bins, while the public provide the feedstock on which the industry is based. Should they discover the truth behind some of these self-proclaimed good works their support may understandably be called into question.

Textile recycling householders can hardly be expected to surf the internet to check out a recyclers credentials before depositing their old clothes. And yet, with some, they might not like what they find.

Other players feel there is a problem, though few are willing to openly discuss it. Salvation Army recycling manager Garth Ward said he could cite countless incidents where recycling banks have turned up in places where they are not wanted.

He said the problem was twofold. The banks were often deposited without permission and because they appeared to be worthy, landowners were unaware that they were not charitable concerns. At the same time, clothes deposited in these banks detract from diversion statistics.

But Ward believed the problem was bigger than just recycling banks. You have to look at the whole issue of unlicensed traders. We have had instances where empty Salvation Army bags have been stolen from the doorstep and redelivered in another area for collection by a bogus operation. In other cases they have collected the filled bags in advance of our collection and clothes are then sold on for profit.

We have involved the police but so far little has happened. I would estimate that rackets like this are costing viable recycling routes millions.

Textiles recycling, it seems, has a long way to go to clean up its act. Perhaps the time has come to set these particular wheels in motion, before its too late. u

Do you believe that bogus doorstep collectors or dubious textiles banks are on the increase, or has your business been hit by unscrupulous organisations? Write to MRW and give us your opinions.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.