All the competent authorities of the UK (Environment Agency (England), Natural Resource Wales, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)) all consider clothing collected from charity shops by textile merchants to be waste. SEPA also consider clothing that is placed in textile recycling banks and which is put out for door to door collections to be waste. The NIEA also consider clothing placed in textile banks to be waste.
Any producer of wastes (e.g. charity shops) have certain obligations under their legal Duty of Care.
Duty of Care
The Duty of Care is a law that is detailed in section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act (1990). If any organisation (e.g. charity, local authority or business), passes its second hand clothing waste to a textile recycling merchant, they must ensure that the merchant has the legal authority to take the waste.
Failure to comply with the Duty of Care may result in a conviction where the penalty could be an unlimited fine.
Further information on the Duty of Care can be found on the NetRegs website
Use a TRA Member
We have found that there are a significant number of textile collectors operating in the UK that do not hold the appropriate waste licences to handle the textile waste that they collect and/or process. However, all new members of the TRA have to provide evidence that they are appropriately licenced to collect waste and that they hold compulsory employers liability insurance. We would therefore strongly recommend that if you are a producer of textile waste, that you consider using only TRA members.
Waste Licence Checker
If you would like to check whether a textile recycling merchant is registered as having a waste carriers licence or waste management licence (if appropriate), you can send the TRA an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone us on 0870 0428276. We will check the public register for you. This service is free.