According to quarterly figures released earlier in the year, households in England and their waste recycling rates have reached a high of 40.8%. These statistics were published by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where they demonstrated that 40% of household waste, in October-December 2010 as sent for recycling.

The amount of a waste that a household produces in England has seen a decrease during the 2010/11 financial calendar by dropping by 2.1% to 23.2 million tonnes which equates to a 7kg average per person. Out of this amount nearly 200kg was recycled or reused.

These statistics added to the performance over the year, resulted in the 40.8% being a higher percentage than what was managed in the 2009/10 financial year of 39.7%. Granted, this is not a major increase but it is going in the right direction and this is what counts. If recycling rate were to increase by 1% every year this would be better than facing a decrease and its effects.

Some people argue that recycling is seeing an increase, particularly in textile recycling industry, due to the current economic state. People are less reluctant to just throw things away nowadays therefore if there is an opportunity to make money from what they no longer want they are grasping it with both hands – this is most evidence through the success of Cash for clothes schemes. With households having less disposable income, it has resulted in people being more flexible and open to buying second hand clothes as oppose to brand new.  As a result of the most recent recession to hit the UK, textile recyclers became wary that the amount of clothing to enter the second hand market would decrease as households would be more likely to keep hold of clothing longer so not to have to buy new.

The demand in the UK of used clothing has remained stable and at a generally good rate over the previous this is despite the currency and demand fluctuations in the overseas market. The collection of UK clothing materials through various ways but a great proportion of this is done through textile banks and charity shops, with door to door collection amounts on the rise.

The most lucrative option for selling on the second hand clothing collected is to import the clothes for sale in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Charity shops reap the most success from selling second hand clothes in the UK. This has resulted in the UK textile industry becoming more and more competitive. The pressure on the UK market has mainly come from the establishment in the market of ‘cheap’ clothing shops which offer the customer the ‘latest fashion’ at prices they can afford which has a knock on effect to second hand clothing as the customer would much rather by brand new clothing at a similar to price to something that is second hand. These ‘cheap’ clothing shops also have an effect further down the line. The materials that these clothes are made of are not of the best quality which means when its does come to a time when the customer no longer has a want for the item of clothing so sends it to be recycled it is much less durable.

As the textile industry has proven to be a lucrative market to be involved with, this seen an increase in textile theft and fraud in both door to door collection and textile banks, with concern that more and more criminal gangs will become involved in organising these ‘bogus collections’ which in the end will results in household becoming reluctant to donating to door to door collections and textile banks as they will fear they are not legitimate.

In order for the UK to remain increasing it’s recycling rates, the key is to reassure households that the recycling they do is making a difference, be it to the environment they live in, to helping families across the world – all their donations help.

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