An accreditation standard has been launched for textile recyclers who trade with charity shops, in an effort to boost standards within the industry.
TRUST – Trader Recycling Universal Standard – accreditation is the result of 18 months of work from a Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum group which included charity retail chains, academics, waste reduction charities and textile recyclers.
It is intended to ensure that recyclers who buy unsold stock from charity retailers for recycling maintain high ethical standards, in line with the charity sector’s approach.
Commenting on the standard, David Roman, chair of TRUST and British Heart Foundation’s 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.”
To receive TRUST accreditation recyclers must pass a series of tests across five categories – health and safety, sound business practise, labour, environment and transport.
These tests will look at issues such as whether recyclers have appropriate policies to prevent accidents and whether workers are treated in accordance with their rights.
Recyclers will have to demonstrate they meet these standards by completing a pre-audit questionnaire and then submitting an inspection by an independent auditor. TRUST accreditation will last for two years from inspection and will cost £2,500.
The scheme will be run by a not-for-profit company and will be funded through the fee recyclers pay to acquire TRUST status. Whistle-blowing procedures will be in place to allow any accredited business to be reported if they fall below standards.
At a launch event in London last night, Dawn Dungate, operations manager at East London Textiles, said that the TRUST accreditation process will identifying trusted suppliers simpler for both recyclers and charities.
“Charities aren’t always looking at price now they are increasingly interested in things such as health and safety and compliance. What we’re trying to do is make things easier for charities but also merchants. We all know the tender process for a charity and the questionnaire we get for many is very long. If a merchant is TRUST accredited however, you only have to do that once every two years.
“For smaller charities, they don’t have the resources to carry out their own checks, but if they know somebody is TRUST accredited then they can use the merchant safe in the knowledge that they have passed a series of stringent tests.”
An independent set of administrators are in the process of being appointed, and its hoped that the first merchants will be signed up before the end of the year.
The Charity Retail Association (CRA) has pledged that in future it will only accept recyclers who are TRUST accredited as corporate members.
Robin Osterley, the chief executive of the CRA, said that the cost of compliance will be minimal for the majority of textile recyclers and his association is confident it will be a success.
“There are stories out there of merchants who are paying well below the minimum wage in conditions that are akin to modern slavery,” he explained at the launch event in London last night.
“The vast majority of merchants out there are not like that, but not all of them, so how is it that are members are supposed to differentiate?
“We’re confident that those who are well run will face minimal costs in complying with the TRUST standard in the first year and in the long-run will actually save them money.”
TRUST has been backed by the CRA and the Textile Recycling Association, as well as receiving input from the Environment Agency and the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM).
British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Oxfam, the Salvation Army, Sue Ryder and Royal Trinity Hospice have all indicated that in due course they will only deal with TRUST- accredited organisations.