A Canning Town family business has gone from employing just three people to turning over £4 million a year, on the back of threefold growth in the UK recycling industry, Recycling Minister Lord de Mauley will hear on his visit to the company today.
Since its small scale beginnings 25 years ago, used clothing has become increasingly valuable, and the recycling sector has tripled its turnover to more than £10 billion a year.
Lawrence M Barry (LMB) Clothes Recycling Centre has grown to employ over 170 staff and work with partners across the globe. Each week, it collects and sorts up to 200 tonnes of clothing which is exported for re-use in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.
Britain’s exports of recovered materials are worth more than £4 billion a year to the nation’s economy. Since 1998, around 8,000 jobs have been created in the UK recycling sector, which now employs more than 30,000 people.
Lord de Mauley said:
“In the 25 years since LMB started trading, waste has become an increasingly valuable commodity and the business has gone from strength to strength. It’s more proof that sustainability does not just make environmental sense, it also makes excellent business sense.
“Used clothing has a massive commercial value, yet over 350,000 tonnes goes to landfill in the UK every year. There’s scope for all of us to think more wisely about the things we throw away. Re-use and recycling are not only good for the environment, but drive an industry that is creating jobs and helping to grow the nation’s economy.”
During his visit to the company today, Lord de Mauley will help staff sort used clothing, before it is sent abroad.
The recycling sector has grown strongly - there has been a threefold increase in sales turnover since 1998 and over this period the sector’s growth has outstripped growth in the overall economy. In addition, net exports of recovered materials are worth more than £4 billion a year to the UK economy.
LMB were the first recycling/waste company to win the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in 1997.
WRAP’s report ‘Valuing Our Clothes’, published in July 2012, looks at the true cost of how we design, use and dispose of clothing in the UK. The report can be found at: www.wrap.uk/clothing
The ‘Valuing Our Clothes’ report shows that by making more use of our clothes through re-use and other routes such as design changes, alteration, repair and recycling, there is a real opportunity for businesses and consumers to realise both financial and environmental gains.
WRAP’s research found that in the last year alone we left a staggering 1.7 billion items unused in our wardrobes. It also found that there is considerable interest from consumers in re-using those unwanted items, with over two thirds of consumers willing to buy and wear pre-owned clothing such as jumpers and jeans.
WRAP also found that by increasing the active use of clothing by an extra nine months we could save £5 billion from the costs of resources used in clothing supply, laundry and disposal.