UK’s BRC releases new guideline on circular fashion for retailers

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has launched a new guideline on second-hand and preloved items, so that retailers can better adhere to circular fashion economy principles. By following this circular model, retailers will further the progress they have already made to lengthen the lifecycle of the products customers buy.

Retailers, resale platforms, charity retailers, and other industry experts collaborated in the creation of the ‘Voluntary Guideline on Second-hand and Preloved Items’. For 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, according to a press release by the BRC.

The guideline emphasises the importance of quality checks, which clearly informs the customer of the item’s condition. The guideline clarifies that its aim is not to promote the circulation of perfect items, but rather to circulate all items, safe in the knowledge that both the buyer and seller have the exact same level of information and expectation of its condition. 

The guideline comes as Oxfam celebrates its Second-Hand September, which encourages people to buy only second-hand items for 30 days in the month of September. The guideline also recommends retailers work with charity retailers, who are always looking for good, clean stock to sell or donate to further their good causes.

The BRC’s 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 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. 

“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,” said Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium.

The guideline has already been welcomed in Westminster and Holyrood, with Dr Lisa Cameron MP and Maurice Golden MSP tabling motions of support in their respective parliaments.