Cash-for-clothing puts pressure on textiles sector

Textile recyclers and charities have revealed they are facing increasing competition for already-scarce material from a growing number of cash-for-clothing operators who pay money directly to the public for material.

High prices for recovered textiles are understood to be fuelling the phenomenon, that involves companies both paying for clothes collected directly from households and opening shops and depots where they buy the clothing off members of the public. A number of more-established commercial textile recyclers are offering money for textiles directly to the public, such as European Textile Recycling, which has seven ‘Cash4Clothes’ shops in the West Midlands, and WH Tracey, which pays for textiles dropped off at its Bury depot. But, they have been joined by less well-known names, a survey reavealed at least three operations offering money for clothing delivered into shops or depots and a further four offering to collect and pay for textiles from householders. All are offering in the region of 50 pence per kilogram for material, roughly in line with the current market price of between £460 and £610 per tonne of charity rags.

The increasing scale of the issue was highlighted by one textile recycler, who wished to remain anonymous. “We are seeing more of these companies and it is a growing issue.” And, another industry source suggested the people behind some cash-for-clothing operations could be linked to those involved in theft of textiles from banks and bags. “I believe these may be the people who have been stealing from banks and bags, he said, adding “I’ve also heard that where these shops have set up there have been increased instances of people jamming open banks”. The source also raised specific concerns over how people selling material to the shops, depots or collectors would have got hold of it in the first place. “I suspect the problem is that when you go into those shops there’s no check on who you are. They don’t check the bags and just give you cash,” he said.

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