Hackney Council praised by clothing reuse charity as report reveals rise of commercially-run textile banks

A Traid clothes bank. Picture: Peter Kelleher

A Traid clothes bank. Picture: Peter Kelleher - Credit: Archant

Cash-strapped councils are ditching charity clothes banks and favouring commercial companies who pay for the privilege – but not Hackney.

The town hall has been praised in a report by Traid, the fashion reuse charity it has worked with for more than a decade.

Their partnership has helped recycle more than 3.5million kilos - 12million garments - that would otherwise have gone to landfill.

The Taking Stock report, carried out by YouGov, reveals two thirds of people who donate clothes to textile banks have no idea they are often benefiting firms who profit from them.

For many charities including Traid, the banks are a vital source of clothes donations used to stock charity shops and raise funds.

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They depend on support from councils to operate the banks, which are usually on council land. But increasingly local authorities are asking for hefty fees, squeezing charities out of the picture.

In many cases, charity-run textile banks have been removed and replaced by commercial ones. In the last five years, 200-tonnes of clothes donations have been lost as a result - the equivalent of an £850,000 annual hit to Traid.

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In Hackney Traid has 85 banks and offers a free home collection service to every household.

Hackney's environment chief Cllr Jon Burke said: "International textile manufacturing alone produces in excess of 1.2bn tonnes of planet-heating carbon dioxide annually.

"We cannot address the climate emergency unless we tackle fast fashion. That's why we're committed to drastically reducing resource depletion, waste, and greenhouse gases by continuing and developing our relationship with TRAID. We know that every item donated makes a difference to people's lives on many different levels."

Unsurprisingly, the report found 88pc of people would prefer to use the banks run by a charity.

Traid is now calling for more transparency about who benefits from textile banks, for councils to keep 60 per cent for charity banks and for them to pledge not to remove existing ones.

CEO Maria Chenoweth said: "We are not asking councils to stop making commercial decisions. We are asking them to ensure that charities are not the victim of commercial decisions."

Robin Osterley, CEO at the Charity Retail Association said: "Each year, more than 11,000 charity shops raise £295m, and the ability to source donations from textile banks is vital.

"The charity retail sector also makes a huge contribution to the environment. In 2018, 327,000 tonnes of textiles were diverted from landfill and into re-use and recycling. This also makes a positive difference to the UK's carbon footprint, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by around 7m tonnes through green activities."

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