More and more local authorities are charging substantial fees for textile banks, which is squeezing out charities and favouring commercial companies that profit from the donations, says a report published today.
Clothing charity TRAID’s Taking Stock report also says charites have seen their clothing recycling banks replaced by commercial companies' banks, after councils asked them to leave.
TRAID says it has potentially lost over £850,000 in income since 2009 from lost clothing stock because of the replacement of its recycling banks by commercial operators.
Charities should not be the victims of commercial decisions
Maria Chenoweth, chief executive at TRAID, said: “We are not asking councils to stop making commercial decisions.
“We are asking them to ensure that charities are not the victim of commercial decisions.
“By listening to residents, improving transparency about who profits from donations and ensuring commercial companies are not placed at the expense of charities, but in addition to them, local authorities can continue to support charities and their residents.”
According to the report, 38 per cent of 325 local authorities only use textile banks run by commercial companies, while 25 per cent only have banks run by charities.
LGA: Councils have to find a balance
David Renard, councillor and environment spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “Councils generally encourage people to recycle clothes through charity shops, kerbside collections and household waste and recycling centres.
“Clothes banks are a part of this, and there is a cost to providing secure bins and regular collections, which has to be covered by the taxpayer as there is no producer responsibility scheme for textiles.
“Councils strive to find a balance between supporting charities and securing contracts that offer best value to taxpayers.
“Local authorities will find the recycling solutions that work best for their communities and any income goes back into running those services.”
88 per cent of the public prefer charity-run banks
TRAID also carried out research public opinion for the report and found that 88 per cent preferred to use banks run by a charity.
Two-thirds of respondents did not know textile banks were sometimes run commercially, and 95 per cent said clothing banks should be labelled to show who benefitted from donations.