Retail guidelines published to drive forward circular economy

second hand clothing

Retailers, resale platforms, charity retailers, and other industry experts have come together to develop guidelines on second-hand and “preloved” items, which the British Retail Consortium (BRC) says is to help the industry on its journey to a circular economy.

The voluntary guidelines, published by the BRC, outline the steps retailers can take to adhere to circular economy principles. By following this circular model, the BRC says retailers will further the progress they have already made to lengthen the lifecycle of the products they buy.

As part of the guidelines, it explains clothing, footwear, homeware textiles, and other items, retailers can promote resale markets and platforms; use hire and rental subscription services; and offer product swaps, upcycling and repair schemes, instead of throwing away items.

The BRC says the guidelines have already been welcomed in Westminster and Holyrood, with Dr Lisa Cameron MP and Maurice Golden MSP tabling motions of support in their respective parliaments.

The guidelines also emphasise the importance of quality checks, which “clearly informs” the customer of the item’s condition. They also clarify that its aim is not to promote the circulation of perfect items, but rather to circulate all items, “safe in the knowledge” that both buyer and seller have the same level of information and expectation of their condition.

Retailers recognise the role they can play in helping their customers shop in more environmentally friendly ways.

The UK trade association explains that its long-term goal is to limit, and ultimately end, the sending of items to landfill unnecessarily and to keep them in circulation for longer so that they can be used and loved by more people.

The BRC says it is already working with retailers on their journey to Net Zero through their Climate Action Roadmap. Supported by over 80 major retailers, it is the Retail Industry’s commitment to reduce industry and supply chain carbon emissions to zero by 2040.

Chief Executive of the BRC, Helen Dickinson OBE, said: “We are delighted to launch our first voluntary Guideline on second-hand and preloved items. With more people looking for ways to shop sustainably, particularly as the cost of living rises, the sale of second-hand items in-store and online can encourage sustainable behaviours at affordable prices and take us one step further towards a circular economy.

“Retailers recognise the role they can play in helping their customers shop in more environmentally friendly ways, and we hope that this Guideline will help many on their sustainability journey.”

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