An accreditation scheme for recycling firms that trade with charities has been launched to improve standards in the industry.
Concerns have been raised in recent years over recycling firms that work with charities, with charity bag collection company Clothes Aid warning last year that the majority of collections in the UK were being undertaken by unlicensed firms, costing charities “millions”.
Today, the Trader Recycling Universal Standard (TRUST) has been launched to raise standards of firms that take unsold items from charity shops or make door-to-door collections on a charity’s behalf.
Charities representing 2,500 shops across the UK have backed the scheme, which requires recycling firms to pass a comprehensive series of tests every two years in order to be accredited.
The five standards that recyclers will have to meet are:
- Health and safety (ensuring that sound policies exist to prevent accidents and take appropriate action to protect staff when incidents occur).
- Sound business practice (checking that everything the business does is compliant with the law and transparent).
- Labour (requiring that all workers are treated properly and in full accordance with their rights).
- Environment (promoting the best sustainability and environmental standards).
- Transport (ensuring that all vehicles used are well maintained and appropriate).
Recyclers will have to demonstrate they meet these standards by completing a pre-audit questionnaire and then passing an inspection by an independent auditor.
Charities sign up
TRUST has been formed from a Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum that included charity retailers, academics, waste reduction charities, and textile recyclers themselves, who have worked on the project for the past 18 months.
The forum also included the Charity Retail Association (CRA) and the Textile Recycling Association (TRA), plus the Environment Agency and Chartered Institution of Wastes Management.
British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Oxfam, Salvation Army, Sue Ryder and Royal Trinity Hospice have all pledged to deal solely with TRUST-accredited recyclers in future.
In addition, the CRA will in future only accept recyclers who are TRUST-accredited as corporate members.
Local authorities, waste management companies, and other retailers will also be encouraged to use TRUST accreditation for their own sectors.
The scheme will be led by the CRA and undertaken by freelance administrators funded by the recyclers that pay for accreditation.
Duty of care
Robin Osterley, CRA chief executive, said: “There are many recyclers out there whose business practices are exemplary, but sadly there are also a few who fall short of the standards we would expect.
“This initiative, supported by many of the largest charity retailers and others, will go a long way to ensuring competitive advantage for those who are doing the right thing, and provide comfort for charity retailers that they are dealing with reputable and healthy organisations.”
David Roman, TRUST chair and British Heart Foundation sustainability manager, said: “Charity shops are hugely grateful for the donations we receive, which help fund our vital work.
“We want to ensure those donations are taken care of every step of the way, which is why we extend our duty of care to the recycling merchants we trade with.”
Alan Wheeler, TRA director, said: “We have for many years had a transparent and robust membership application procedure that has aimed to ensure that only professional businesses that adhere to relevant waste, employment and health and safety laws are afforded membership.
“With the introduction of TRUST, our members will be able to demonstrate this outwardly through this independent audit process.”
The Charity Shops Survey 2019 will be published alongside the October edition of Charity Finance magazine.