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RecycleSmart joins forces with the Australian Red Cross

textile recycling

Sydney start-up RecycleSmart is all about making recycling easy. Now the on-demand recycling service is ensuring household recycling makes a positive difference.

RecycleSmart will deliver any suitable textiles it collects to Australian Red Cross Shops in selected council areas signed up to the service.

Brooke Sclater, Red Cross Manager, Merchandise and Distribution Centres, says the partnership is a “match made in heaven”.

“Increasingly, op shops are a destination for people who want to reduce their environmental footprint and extend the lifetime of garments, while doing something good for the community,” Brooke says.

“If it’s wearable and someone can reuse it, it’s definitely the most environmentally-friendly thing that we can do.

“In January, at least a tonne of textiles, including wearable clothes, manchester and accessories has come into our stores. That’s a tonne that could have potentially ended up as general waste.”

RecycleSmart works with councils to provide an on-demand, free pick-up recycling service to residents. It targets recyclable items such as soft plastics, clothing, e-waste, batteries and lightbulbs, and takes the hassle out of residents having to visit multiple collection centres. Any materials collected are taken to recyclable collection points or resource recovery centres within individual Local Government Areas (LGA).

Eugenie Alonzo, RecycleSmart Chief Marketing Officer, says as much wearable clothing as possible will now be directed to Red Cross shops to be on-sold to help fund humanitarian projects.

“The Red Cross is really here to help and that aligns with who we are,” Eugenie says. “We’re here to make recycling easy.

“It’s a very exciting partnership. It’s great to be part of something that is making a difference.”

Since RecycleSmart began just over two years ago, the service has collected more than 57,000 kilograms of textiles. 

Eugenie says the service hopes to redirect more than 3000 kilograms to the Red Cross within months. Any pick-ups in LGAs without a Red Cross store will still be directed to local charity organisations.

Eugenie says residents using the free pick-ups, known as a Power Pickup, are encouraged to label their recyclable clothing as wearable or non-wearable. The bags are sorted by the driver before being taken to charity organisations.

“Because the driver does the sorting when recyclables are collected, we’re able to give a very clean stream of donations,” Eugenie says.

Brooke says the partnership has opened new opportunities for people to donate to Red Cross. “The main way we can collect donations for our stores is for people to bring them in,” she says. 

“We don’t have a fleet of drivers to collect from residents’ homes, it’s not what we do. 

“This partnership is really going to help people who may not have a Red Cross Shop nearby and struggle to bring donations to a local charity. It’s ensuring it’s really, really easy for them to do.”

The partnership is also bolstering the clothing available at Red Cross stores after two years of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

“For most charity stores, the vast majority of garments we receive come in over the counter,” Brooke says. 

“Over the past two years, whenever we needed to close stores because of government mandates in relation to COVID-19 it meant we weren’t getting those donations. When we opened the doors again there was a little influx, but it wasn’t representative of the amount of time that we were closed.

“It’s been a challenging couple of years for us and others.”

A campaign titled Red and pink – the ultimate power couple, was launched in March to announce the partnership. A series of videos explains the partnership and the process from the moment someone decides to make a donation to when that donation arrives in store.

While RecycleSmart is predominantly based in New South Wales, it is in discussions with several councils in Victoria and Queensland to expand interstate.  

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