Ms Crouch praised the work being undertaken by the TRA to tackle the issue of theft from door to door and clothing banks collections, which costs charities millions of pounds in lost revenue every year, and threatens the economic viability of collection businesses and is thousands of paid jobs at risk. She said that some businesses which have gone into receivership recently and theft impacted on them. Ms Crouch added “People need the understanding and confidence that when they are putting out their clothing or recycling for charity, they have the knowledge that they are doing so for genuine collectors and genuine charities.”
Despite the very difficult economic situation currently being faced by the industry, the message coming out of the event was that the industry there are many positive aspects that should be celebrated and opportunities to attract new business. For example, some retailers have started offering in-store take back schemes but rather than being a threat, some TRA members have managed to secure new business. M&S, H&M and Clarks are all operating schemes in conjunction with TRA members and whether big or small collectors and charities have an opportunity to partner up with appropriate retailers to develop such services.
Delegates also discussed recent business closures and decreases in prices that merchants have had to pass onto their partners, caused by uncertainties in the export markets, which in the opinion of many still remain over-inflated. Concern was expressed about the long term viability of the current export markets in Africa and Eastern Europe.
In addressing this, the members heard from Mervyn Jones that WRAP are working with the TRA on identifying opportunities to establish new markets, close the textile recycling loop and secure and create additional jobs in the industry, which directly employs around 5000 people in the UK. One of the key messages from WRAP was that membership of the TRA was essential for textile and clothing reclamation merchants, because it is only through the TRA that WRAP can engage effectively with the wider sector concerning the vital work being undertaken through the Clothing Roadmap and on textile recycling in general.
The TRA also formerly appointed Alan Wheeler as its Director. Alan, who was originally appointed as National Liaison Manager in 2003, said “I am delighted and honoured at the appointment and I look forward to continue working with the TRA membership and wider industry stakeholders to secure new markets and jobs and promote further collections in a transparent manner.”
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