Charity shops are seeing a “strong influx” of textile donations in their first week of trading since reopening over a week ago (12 April), but difficulties reported by recyclers remain.
While increased tonnages have been welcomed by textile recyclers after months of closures, many have said there are a lot of “heavy goods”, such as jumpers and winter clothes, which may have less sell on value in the spring and summer months.
There is also concern that storage of the textiles over lockdown has also significantly affected the quality of material, with many items placed in piles in charity shops or houses since before the Christmas period.
In terms of tonnages of clothes, most say it is too early to know with any accuracy but early estimates from some suggest they are around 50% – 70% of pre-pandemic levels.
However, the increase in tonnage and business has still provided a welcome boost to the textiles recycling sector.
A London based textile recycler reported volumes to be coming in “thick and fast”, with the main aim being to clear out any stock that has been there for a long time.
A Lincolnshire based recycler described the situation as more variable, calling it “very hit and miss”, as some charity shops remain shut. The business said it is keeping “a close eye on the quality of clothing in the next fortnight”.
Shop collection prices remain largely unchanged at the moment, ranging approximately from £200 to £300+ per tonne.
The chief executive of the Charity Retail Association (CRA), Robin Osterley, has called on the public to be mindful about the donations they are bringing in.
Mr Osterley told letsrecycle.com that while there has been a strong stream of donations coming into shops, so far it is not “overwhelming”.
He added that sales and trading is going “extremely well”, with charity shops such as Cancer Research reporting that sales are up 90% compared to previous years.
The British Heart Foundation also reported around £1 million in sales on the day of reopening, which is double its daily average seen in previous years.
Due to increased demand from consumers, some charity shops are also appealing for certain types of stock.
The British Heart Foundation said it was “desperate” for spring and summer clothing, rather than heavy materials that would be suited to winter months.
Reuse shops in HWRCS have also reopened across the country, with councils calling for donations after months of closures. In Warwickshire, the council has called for the public to donate “good quality” items including soft furnishings, garden equipment and toys.
In Suffolk, the county council also called for residents to donate items, with a particular focus on electronics.
Meanwhile, Wrexham council and its waste partner FCC Environment called on residents to “clear out to help out” ahead of shops reopening.