The Environment Bill and Charity Retail

As the Environment Bill goes through the UK Parliament we are lobbying MPs to support new Extended Producer Responsibility schemes for textiles and also bulky waste items such as furniture.

The Environment Bill establishes new legal powers for the Government to pass new regulations to require producers to:

  • Take responsibility for the disposal costs of their products. This could be through a new levy that producers are required to pay to help fund reuse and recycling.
  • Meet new product labelling standards
  • Meet new minimum product standards

Extended Producer Responsibility schemes would likely apply to both importers and to UK manufacturers.

The UK Government has set out five priority product groups for new Extended Producer Responsibility schemes:

  • Textiles
  • Bulky items (such as furniture)
  • Construction waste
  • Vehicle tyres
  • Fishing gear

Two of these five product groups will be fast tracked with schemes potentially in place before 2025.

Charity retail is the single most effective way of keeping second-hand goods out of the waste stream in the UK. Charity retailers are already diverting 339,000 tonnes of textiles from becoming waste each year through reuse or recycling. This is the equivalent of 1.7 billion shirts or blouses each year being diverted from landfill or incineration which saves local councils between £30.2 million and £38.3 million a yearin waste disposal costs.

France is currently the only country that operates a Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for textiles which requires producers to make a financial contribution towards the cost of disposing of old textiles. The money generated is used to fund the costs of sorting organisations, support research and public awareness schemes. If this model was followed in the UK the amount of money that could be raised is around £35 million annually based on an average levy of 1 pence an item of clothing.

Our briefing for MPs calls for four things:

  1. Extended producer responsibility schemes must prioritise reuse of goods wherever possible
  2. Textiles and bulky items should be fast tracked for extended producer responsibility schemes
  3. Local councils should be required to work collaboratively with reuse organisations to increase rates of reuse
  4. These should be new targets on increasing the volume of goods that are diverted from becoming waste through reuse

Jonathan Mail, Head of Public Affairs, Charity Retail Association