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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.
That’s okay! I was surprised to see that at the plant, ELT have a large tumble dryer to make sure all the clothes that may come in wet can be dried before being sorted.
Yes! Of course. Even if your item is faded or lost colour, it can still be used in some way, so don’t be shy.
Absolutely. As discussed above, staff are trained to see and feel the higher quality items and they are categorised as such.
Leukaemia Care have a helpline number set up that goes directly to ELT at the plant. If you pass on your house number and postcode, they will be able to tell you the next collection date in your area.
The helpline number is: 0330 004 0595, or you can call ELT direct on 020 8501 0743 to speak to someone about your bag.
No, all the drivers are ELT staff.
That’s no problem. If you ever want to stop LC charity bags coming through your door, you can simply call the helpline number (0330 004 0595) to pass on your house number and postcode. Then you can be removed from the list.
This is a tough one as it is notoriously easy for charity bag designs to be duplicated. The main thing to look out for is Leukaemia Care’s charity number: 259483.
This varies depending on where you are and the driver’s plan for the day.
We cannot give you a specific time, but they will collect between 8am-7pm, so if you leave your bag at the end of your drive, in clear view of the street, the driver will collect it for you.
Yes! Just make sure the black bags have Leukaemia Care written on them, or are attached to the collection bag, and then the driver will know they need to be taken.
Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Thousands of bags a day can be brought back to the plant from around the country, and all bags are processed within 24 hours.
You can always call the helpline (0330 004 0595) and if the bag has been collected very recently, we may be able to track the driver and get it back. However, this is an uncommon occurrence.