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The life of a collection bag

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

  • ELT

As a charity, we are always looking for new ways to fundraise and get the community involved in what we do. Recycling is one of the ways in which we raise awareness of our name, raise funds and also help the environment.

Although we are a national charity, we do not have the resources to distribute and collect bags around the country. That is why we are currently partnered with East London Textiles Limited (ELT), who collect and distribute our bags for us.

Having worked with ELT for many months now, I have learnt just how many items of clothing can be recycled and the scale of the sorting of these items. I was lucky enough to be invited to visit the recycling plant with our CEO, Monica Izmajlowicz, a couple of weeks ago.

The organisation and man power involved in sorting through the charity bags is something to behold. The charity bag will be collected and dropped back at the plant. Each bag is then opened and tipped onto a sorting belt. The skilled workers organise the clothing not just through type, such as t-shirt, trousers, or dress, but by quality. The staff are trained to be able to tell the quality of an item and the materials they are made from with just one touch. This is how they can get through the bags so quickly.

To determine the quality of a fabric, they look for fibres that mean the item will have a higher cost price or will be able to produce more profit. This depends on many things, such as material, how faded the colouring or pictures are, stains and generally if the item of clothing is coming to the end of its life cycle. Each item of clothing can be touched up to 22 times during processing as it gets categorised at each stage to determine where it is best placed.

Also, it is not only clothing that is recycled by ELT; they are also sorting through thousands of cuddly toys, bedding and bric-a-brac that has been donated.

The clothes end up in crates that are due to be sent abroad. Even the items that are ‘less’ good quality get sorted separately and sent abroad. Any items that are unusable (which is rare) are taken and shredded to be sold on as rags. There is 0% landfill coming from ELT. Every piece of clothing they receive gets used in some way, shape or form.  

The visit was a great way for me to understand the process and see what really goes on behind the scenes. While I was there, I picked up some great pieces of information and I wanted to give you all a list of FAQs so as to answer all your charity recycling bag questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

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