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Raising the standard for textiles and mattresses

New certification schemes for recycling textiles and mattresses are being promoted in the UK – said to be one the most comprehensive of its kind in the world.

In September, the Trader Recycling Universal Standard (TRUST) scheme was launched by charities concerned that improper or illegal practices within the used textile or similar supply chains could have a severe impact on their reputation. Such activity, in employment, health and safety, or environmental practices, could be anywhere in the world.

At the launch, Robin Osterley, chief executive of the Charity Retail Association, said: ‘Things are changing for charities and people are going to want to know about your supply chain and what goes on there.’

Charities’ support

The charities that have signed up to TRUST so far represent 2500 retail outlets, one-third of all such shops in the UK. Each member pays a fee of around £2500 (EUR 2875) to cover two years’ membership with audit costs paid separately. Once accredited, a business will go on a publicly available register and website. Accreditation is repeated every two years.

The scheme was one of two highlighted by Alan Wheeler, director of the UK’s Textile Recycling Association, at the latest BIR convention in Budapest. The other is the Register of Approved Mattress Recycler (RAMR) that is due to be launched formally next year.

EPR forerunner?

Wheeler told delegates that too many operators were doing business illegally, running sites that took gate fees for mattresses, piled them up and did nothing to recycle them. ‘It was the wild west,’ he said.

As with TRUST, RAMR has a two-stage accreditation process with significant non-returnable joining fees. Audits are carried out by independent concerns, although in this case it is three-yearly requirement. A 30% target for recycling mattresses has been set and Wheeler believes the scheme could help if the UK Government added mattresses to its extended producer responsibility (EPR) regime in the next five years.

 ‘EPR could be around the corner and we wanted the industry to develop the standards first. Legislation could then make the voluntary standards compulsory,’ he said.

Wheeler told Recycling international that some Nordic countries have textile commitments and France has a mattress EPR scheme but they are not seen as being as wide-ranging as the new UK schemes.

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