The resources management minister Lord de Mauley has launched a campaign to highlight the clothing recycling sector.
Speaking at the Lawrence M Barry (LMB) Clothes Recycling Centre in Canning Town, London, the minister said he wanted to draw attention to the economic and environmental potential of recycling and reusing clothes that are no longer wanted as part of the Government’s commitment to a zero waste economy.
“We have to get people to understand there is value in their clothes when they no longer need them,” de Mauley said.
The minister said that next year the Government would be publishing its Waste Prevention Plan, drafted under the revised EU Waste Framework Directive.
He referred to WRAP’s 2012 report Textile Product Flow and Market Development Opportunities in the UK that 350,000 tonnes of used clothing worth £140m goes to landfill in the UK every year, identifying it as the industry’s major challenge.
“We have to do better. We export £4bn of material every year and its an industry that employs 30,000 people… What’s important is that local authorities, businesses, charities and individuals realise how much value there is and how they can benefit from it.”
De Mauley also told MRW that Defra was in talks with businesses about how they can design their clothes to prevent waste and push the clothing industry up the waste hierarchy.
“We’re talking to manufacturers to try and design longer life into clothes.”
He said he was keen for customers to understand how to get a longer life out of their clothes or to give them away to be re-used when they had finished with them.
Another challenge, said de Mauley, was to find markets for the clothes people no longer wanted.
You can see Ross Barry, director of LMB, speaking about markets for waste clothing on the above video (at 1.45m).
LMB now has a turnover of abour £4.5m a year, and sorts 200 tonnes of clothes a week to be sent for recycling or exported to Africa, Eastern Europe and Pakistan for re-use.