Europe – The UK’s decision to leave the European Union is likely to exacerbate the challenges facing the domestic used textiles sector, according to Textiles Recycling Association director Alan Wheeler.
Contributing to the Materials Recycling World magazine, he points out that a large proportion of the UK’s business is conducted with EU member states, with free trade having helped to support the textiles recycling industry when exporting to countries particularly in the east of the continent. ‘So we need to wait and see what form of trade agreements the UK can negotiate before we leave the EU that will enable us to continue trading with our EU partners,’ he states.
And regarding the ‘50 or more’ EU free trade agreements with countries or blocs of countries outside the union, ‘we are now going to have to negotiate our own deals so that we can continue to enjoy favourable access to these same markets’, says Wheeler.
Also under the EU, free movement of people has enabled UK firms to recruit sufficient staff. ‘These workers are not suppressing wages: rates of pay for manual workers and working conditions are generally good,’ Wheeler notes. ‘But migrant workers are doing the jobs that British workers often do not want.’