Household waste: charity retail can boost recycling rates

The Greater London Assembly’s Environment Committee recently published a new official report entitled Waste: Household Recycling. It was no surprise to the Charity Retail Association that the Committee’s first key finding that “London needs to recycle much more of its waste”.

A recent entry on our blog described precisely the extent of London’s recycling problem. From 2015 to 2016, London’s average household waste recycling rate was 32 per cent. That compares rather miserably to the national average of 43 per cent. Things are also getting worse with recycling rates declining in each of the past three years.

However, we were surprised that the Committee’s report made no mention of the contribution made by the charity retail sector to holding up rates of re-use and recycling in London and beyond.

Our sector already diverts significant amounts of waste from landfill – 323,000 of textiles in 2017 alone – and we could do even more with the full support of the authorities.

As the voice of the Charity Retail sector, we are keen to educate politicians and policy makers in local and national government about the advantages of working with our members.

With this in mind we have submitted a new document to the Environment Committee asking them to include information on these potential advantages in their final report.

Our document, which you can read here, concludes by stating:

“The Greater London Assembly is in a unique position to promote cultural change across London’s local authorities. Therefore, the Environment Committee should recommend in its final report that councils and waste disposal authorities in the capital begin to develop more collaborative relationships with charity retailers in their areas.

In particular, this could take the form of boosting the profile of charity shops who will pick up furniture and electrical items for sale, or, partnering with charity retailers at waste disposal sites themselves.

n return for saving local authorities money by diverting more waste to reuse or recycling, charity shops should also received a fairer deal from the boroughs around disposal charges and business rates relief.

By promoting charity retail as part of the solution, The Environment Committee could help ensure that London recycles more of its waste.”

f you are a charity retailer who operates in London you might also want to have your say on this issue, and can do so by emailing