Charity shops have an increasing role to play in our community, Environment Minister Alex Attwood has said.
Speaking at a conference organised by the Charity Retail Association, the Minister said that the 250 charity shops make a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland economy and environment.
The conference, attended by major charities and charity shop operators, is being held to provide charity retailers with the information and guidance needed to strengthen their retail operation.
Sessions focused on a wide range of subjects including the use of social media to increase customer base, collaborating with corporate organisations and how to develop specialist shops in niche areas.
Minister Attwood said: “The charity retail sector is a vitally important part of the Northern Ireland economy. The Charity Retail Association has an important role to play by turning other people’s “cast-offs” and unwanted items into valuable products. For example, donations to charity shops have diverted over 11,000 tonnes of textiles from land-fill. This has generated a number of jobs and boosted investment in the economy and demonstrates clear environmental benefits by reducing waste going to landfill.
“This assists every one of us – with landfill taxes increasing, every tonne of waste that we divert from landfill is essentially money in the ratepayer’s pocket.”
The Minister continued: “Recycling rates have continued to improve in Northern Ireland. There is no doubt that the work and services of companies like the Charity Retail Association have all contributed by ensuring that there is a sustainable end market for these materials. I am confident that we can all increase our efforts through imaginative and innovative solutions to make reuse and recycling economically viable.
“Across the globe the potential opportunities presented by the green economy are increasingly recognised. I cannot emphasis enough that we must ensure that Northern Ireland is geared up to maximise the benefits from these opportunities.”