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Councils refusing to take charity shop waste

Many local authorities are banning charity shops from taking donated items they are unable to sell on to household waste recycling centres (HWRCs), research has shown.

The Charity Retail Association (CRA) collated evidence from more than 400 councils across the UK about their attitude to third sector waste.

Freedom of Information requests by the CRA uncovered that 19% of councils flatly refused to accept household rubbish from charity shops. This was described as “concerning” by the association, whose members often rely on trips to HWRCs to dispose of donations that cannot be sold on.

A further 18% of responding councils accepted charity waste only within set limits on volume, location, time or other factors.

Almost a third of those accepting charity waste issued a charge for some or all of it.

The picture varies across the country.

In the East Midlands, four in 10 local authorities banned charity waste from their HWRCs. In the south-west, by contrast, fewer than one in 10 outlawed it.

Nearly three-quarters of Scottish councils allowed charity shops to dispose of unusable donations compared with fewer than half in Wales.

Meanwhile, the research found that seven in 10 councils across the UK would not make clothes recycling bins available to charity shops to help them generate stock. The research also found that the granting of rate relief to charity shops was inconsistent across the UK.

CRA chief executive Robin Osterley said: “Our extensive report highlights the bizarre situation where charity shops from the same chain, delivering exactly the same services and performing in exactly the same way, can get a completely different package of support in terms of rate relief and waste disposal charges simply because they are located on different sides of an authority boundary.

“That’s why we are calling on local authorities to be mindful of their responsibilities to accept household waste coming from charity shops, and to be generous to them when it comes to offering discretionary rate relief.

”We do not believe the current system offers consistent, transparent or fair support to shops across the country. And we are also calling for all local authorities to publish set criteria against which they will award discretionary rate relief.”

The Local Government Association insisted that councils were “working hard” to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and valued partnerships with local charities.

“As the research shows, most councils will take waste that cannot be sold at household recycling sites,” said a spokesman.

“Councils always work with residents and businesses to offer the best waste service possible. Our own polling shows eight out of 10 people are happy with the way their council collects their rubbish.

“However there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to waste disposal. This is why one authority might have a different system to others. What works in one area might not be the most suitable method for another part of the country.”

He added that charities occupying commercial premises were eligible for 80% mandatory relief on their business rates, but any discretionary top-up to this was up to individual councils.

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