From rags to riches

Local charities could benefit from a new textile recycling scheme proposed for Brighton & Hove later this year.

Members of Brighton & Hove City Council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability are being asked to approve a scheme which would see the current textile banks removed and replaced with a new council run service.

The scheme would provide an improved textile recycling service in the city along with opportunities to expand collections to schools and other organisations. Revenue from the scheme would go towards improving recycling services in the city, with a percentage distributed to local groups and charities.

If agreed, the council will invite bids for a three year contract to install, maintain and service textile banks all over the city and the scheme could be introduced in November.

Brighton and Hove currently has 74 recycling ‘bring sites’ including 64 on council land.

Most of these sites include ‘textile banks’ where residents can take unwanted clothes, fabric and other material to be re-used or recycled. The majority of the banks have been installed by national charities with no formal approval or agreement from the council. 

In 2013/14 375 tonnes of textiles were collected in Brighton & Hove valued at between £90,000 and £116,000. The tonnages collected are included in the council’s recycling statistics.

Collected textiles are taken to facilities where they are sorted in to different grades. Wearable items are sold on either in the UK or abroad.  The remainder of the textiles are sold to the ‘flocking industry’ for shredding and re-spinning.   The charities, which include The Salvation Army, TRAID and Oxfam, receive a proportion of the income generated.

Under the proposed new scheme, 10% of the income would be ring-fenced to directly benefit local charities and organisations via the council’s recycling reward fund to which organisations can apply for grants.  The incentive scheme would be advertised on the new recycling banks.

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee said: ““Any proposals which aim to improve our services, provide more opportunities for residents to recycle and support local charities are to be welcomed and I’m looking forward to the discussion at the next environment committee meeting.”

The councillors will consider the proposals on July 7.