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Relaunch for charity shop grade spec in the UK

United Kingdom – The UK’s Textile Recycling Association (TRA) has relaunched its specification for clothing donated originally by the public to charity shops which is then sold on to TRA members rather than being retailed in store.

First launched in 2002, the specification has been published annually and was widely upheld for a number of years. During recent years, however, it proved ever more difficult to uphold the standard as growing numbers of ′opportunist′ collectors were prepared to pay ′over-inflated prices′ for ′increasingly poor-quality clothing′, according to the TRA.

But now ′the bubble has burst in the UK used clothing industry′, with values dropping around 40% since the beginning of the year, established used clothing collectors have become increasingly selective about what items they are prepared to take from charity shops and how they should be presented.

The review and relaunch of the Charity Shop Grade specification should provide greater clarity for staff at charity shops to help them ensure they obtain best value for their goods, the organisation believes. ′Throughout 2014, very difficult market conditions have made it necessary for used clothing collectors to reduce the prices that they can pay charity shops and be more selective about the items they take,′ observes TRA director Alan Wheeler.

′They can no longer pay high prices for low-quality items. If charity shops follow the revised specifications, this should help them to negotiate favourable terms and ensure that they get a price that is commensurate with the market prices quoted by recycling trade press publications.′

The TRA is also calling on charities to put an end to payments by bag. The association′s Code of Practice recommends members to carry a calibrated set of scales on board their collection vehicles to enable charity shop staff to verify weights; this helps to ensure that the charity fulfils its obligations under weights and measures regulations.

However, a recent survey of charity shops found that one in four respondents still receives some of its payments for charity shop grade clothing based on a price per bag. ′The TRA recommends that any charity still receiving payments in this way should put a stop to this immediately and negotiate a price per kilo for all their used clothing,′ it states.

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