Search form

menu menu

Private companies try to take over second-hand clothes collection

09:01 19/02/2024

Private companies are gradually taking over the collection of second-hand clothing to the detriment of non-profit organisations such as Oxfam and Terre, according to the federation of social and circular enterprises.

The phenomenon is taking place mainly in Wallonia and Brussels, where a number of local authorities have reportedly been approached by private companies looking to take over the 32,000 tonnes of clothing collected by non-profits from more than 3,500 donation points each year.

“The modus operandi is always the same, offering thousands of euros a year to a local authority to replace the social economy collectors,” the federation said.

The private companies are looking to make a profit as thrifting becomes more popular. Brands such as Zalando, Isabel Marant and Kiabi, among others, are hoping to sell vintage items that they have acquired for free.

“The second-hand textile market is overheating,” said Franck Kerckhof, a spokesperson for the federation, explaining that more players are taking an interest and participating “not always in a very virtuous way”.

The federation is proposing two solutions to ensure that textiles are handled by a social and circular enterprise: the first is that local authorities and inter-communal bodies must select the collection operators “carefully”; the second is that the public is asked to donate their clothes to organisations that have been awarded a designation of ‘Solid’R’, meaning their work is done for the benefit of a solidarity project.

Written by Helen Lyons