By Amy North
A partnership between two Leeds-based textile recyclers is targeting used clothing by allowing householders to choose which charity benefits financially from the sale of the items.
JT Textiles and Unicare have created a business called Rose Wild Ltd which trades under the name of Clothes for Charity. The website supporting the Rose Wild business was launched in September 2013, with the help of marketing firm Together Agency.
The website claims to allow householders to request a bag from the site, choose which charity will receive a financial donation from the sale of the clothing and arrange for the bag to be collected.
The directors of the Cypriot-owned business are Tomas Kacinauskas and Olena Romanyshyna, who work for JT Textiles and Unicare respectively.
It was launched in a bid to offer householders reassurance that their donations are being collected by a reputable collector who is working with the charities, according to the website. This approach represents a requested collection service rather than the dumping of collection bags on doorsteps which has happened in parts of the UK in recent years and prompted concerns from the wider textile industry (see letsrecycle.com story).
At present, nearly 70 charities are signed up to the Clothes for Charity scheme including: Centrepoint a London-based social welfare charity; Stroke Association; The Brain Tumour Charity; and, the National Animal Welfare Trust.
Commenting on why the Stroke Association chose to join the scheme, James Teodorini, account manager at the charity, said: The Stroke Association partnered with Clothes for Charity in November 2013 as they offered a simple solution for our supporters to donate their unwanted clothes whilst raising much needed funds for our work supporting stroke survivors and their families across the country.
“Clothes for Charity stands out because donors could select their chosen charity, arrange their own pick up times and be informed of how much they had helped raise for the Stroke Association. As a new partnership, we look forward to seeing some successful results.
Commenting on the business, Jonathan Turner, commercial director at Clothes for Charity and partner at the Together Agency, told letsrecycle.com: We recognise that a lot of charities are underfunded and under resourced and we want to take the hassle away for them.
Mr Turner said there is no cost involved for charities looking to sign up to the scheme; they merely have to provide a logo and information about themselves as well as signing a contract.
Charities signed up to the scheme receive 200 per tonne of material collected on their behalf. Mr Turner says this is considerably more than they usually receive from door step collections. The remainder of the revenue received from the collections will be used to administer the business, which includes mailing and collecting the bags, sorting the material alongside a small profit for the business.
Discussing the financial side of the business Mr Turner said: We give the charities involved big donations of 200 a tonne [for material collected]. Normally they would only get between 70 to 100 per tonne so it is two to three times more then what a door step collection would be. If we are doing bulk collections the rates would be much higher to the charity.
What the clothes sell at is quite variable as they are sold on the world market… We are hoping to make between a 5-10% margin on the clothes that we sell after operational costs.
Once filled, the bags are collected by courier service providers City Link and UPS. Each collection costs the business 10 so it encourages users to donate at least 15 kilograms of used clothing to ensure costs are covered. The bags sport a unique barcode which identifies the donator and their chosen charity.
Once collected, the clothes are delivered to JT Textiles warehouse in Leeds. From there, they are exported for sale mostly onto the Eastern European market via Hurtex and Phu Ronka in Poland and Vintex in Lithuania. Some material is also sold to Bradford-based HB Textiles. A small amount of the material, around 10%, is exported to the African and Asian markets.
Looking to the future, Mr Turner said the company may consider offering collections to charity shops as well, however at present it is one of many ideas which could feed into the future development of the business.
Textile collectors, sorters and reprocessors in the UK are represented by the Textile Recycling Association (TRA). Alan Wheeler, director of the TRA, urged textile collectors to ensure they comply with certain standards to help instil confidence in the public.
He said: We would like to encourage all UK based used clothing collection businesses to comply with the standards written in our Code of Practice and to be transparent about how they operate. If all businesses can do this, it should instil confidence in the public and strengthen healthy competitive business.