Reuse before recycle: why you shouldn’t be throwing your clothes away

Sustainability Today is proud to announce that Pink Elephant Group Ltd has been selected as our Textile Recycling Company of the Month.

Pink Elephant Group specialises in recycled clothing and currently operates textile bank collections and recycling schemes across the country. These textile banks are bright pink in colour, to match the company name and brand. “We chose such a name and such a colour to attract more attention to our work and to the recycling and reuse of textiles,” explained Oleksii Kotyk, Director. “We understand that it takes less energy to reuse and recycle material than it does to produce the same material from scratch. Therefore, our emphasis on what we accept and don’t accept are written on our textile banks to promote the reuse of clothing. 90% of what goes in our textile banks is reusable, but 10% of the material still goes to landfill.”

This admirable work is becoming ever more pressing, thanks to the rising trend of cheap disposable clothing that leads to thousands of tons of clothes and millions of shoes thrown away in the UK every year. This puts unnecessary pressure on our landfill sites, as most of these materials can be reused in developing countries, both saving natural resources and providing support to those who need it. Indeed, the company’s main charity partner, A Smile for A Child, receives donations from Pink Elephant Group on a continuous basis. “We are very much a socially conscious company and are participating in such activities to help both the environment and its people,” said Oleksii.

But why does this area of recycling need more attention? “Clothes that are worn every day are one of the most complicated materials to recycle,” Oleksii explained. “They have so many different blends and qualities, and we are trying to highlight that reuse is the best way to prolong the life of clothing and make the general public aware of the subject. This could then affect what is bought and how it is used, with preferences given to higher quality items. Such a shift in perception and understanding of the complexity of recycling clothes will make a massive difference to the whole textile recycling industry.”

Pink Elephant Group is most definitely at the forefront of this movement, thanks to its fast and highly efficient services. The company’s main mission is to promote this change towards ‘reuse before recycle’, as well as providing support and services to local authorities, charitable and commercial organisations, and individual members of the public. This is achieved through arranging various recycling schemes, which helps to raise the extra cash needed for Pink Elephant Group’s clients and partners, as well as helping the environment by diverting unwanted clothing from landfills.

Through the operation of its textile banks, Pink Elephant Group generates monthly payments to site owners in exchange for using their space. This is ideal for local authorities, commercial companies, and charities who could not only make a positive impact on the environment by letting Pink Elephant Group use their spaces, but also create an extra financial stream in the process.

In fact, just before the national lockdown began in March, Pink Elephant Group entered into a contract with Renewi PLC. As part of this contract, Pink Elephant Group now provides textile banks and textile collection services to the East London Waste Authority and to Wakefield Councils. Despite the contract beginning just as the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a national lockdown and major operational difficulties, Pink Elephant Group not only managed to setup the required infrastructure, but also provided a collection service throughout the period without fail.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily stopped Pink Elephant Group’s door-to-door collections and physical cash-for-clothes shop in Leicester. The pandemic also meant a temporary ban on importing all used clothing to traditional export markets.

These developments had a tremendous impact on the textile recycling industry, however it did not stop Pink Elephant Group from continuing to provide efficient services to its partners and contractors, especially when its neighbouring textile recycling companies and charities were not able to operate. “Though the demand was high and the number of textile materials we normally receive was doubled, we still managed to do weekly collections and kept the local areas cleaned for the general public to continue to use our textile banks,” said Oleksii.

Looking to the future, Pink Elephant Group is aiming to broaden its scope by attaining new contracts for its textile banks throughout the UK, as well as exploring innovative ways to reuse and recycle clothes through working with other stakeholders in the industry. It is also looking forward to taking part in the annual RWM Exhibition, taking place on 3-4 November 2020 at the NEC, Birmingham.

Interested in working with Pink Elephant Group? The company is always looking for new locations to host its textile banks. Here’s how you can help:

  • The placement of a textile bank at your premises, to accept reusable items at no extra cost, that generates monthly rental income
  • A charitable fundraising event, which generates donated goods to be sold to Pink Elephant Group
  • Collecting items locally at a work place, public or private organisation to then sell to Pink Elephant Group

For more information, get in touch using the details below or head to the website.