THIEVES have targeted used clothes, shoes and stuffed toys put out for collection by residents as part of a new textiles recycling initiative.
The county-wide scheme has recently been introduced by the Suffolk Waste Partnership, which includes Babergh District Council, to save landfill space.
In the first week of operation, unwanted textiles including bed linen, towels, handbags and underwear, resulted in more than 20 tonnes of clothing being recycled.
But organisers of the initiative say they have received reports of people stealing the bagged-up clothing and textiles from inside residents’ blue wheelie bins, which they say is theft.
And they say they will ensure anyone caught taking these materials is prosecuted, and are urging residents to contact Babergh District Council if they see it happening.
Peter Stevens, chairman of the Suffolk Waste Partnership said: “The response so far from the public has been superb.
“We thank everyone for their incredible support and ask that they continue to recycle their old clothes rather than throwing them in the rubbish bin.
“I would also encourage everyone to let your local council know if you see anyone other than the refuse collection crews taking textiles from your recycling bin. It’s theft, plain and simple.
“These people are neither helping Suffolk, our new scheme nor are they affiliated to any reputable organisation or genuine charity.”
Residents should have received two plastic textile recycling bags which, when filled, go inside blue recycling bins on top of their other loose recycling.
Acceptable items for recycling are clean clothing, shoes, boots, wellington boots, slippers, hats, scarves, gloves, bed linen, blankets, sheets, pillowcases, handbags, belts, clean underwear, curtains, towels, tea towels and stuffed toys. But dirty or oily items, duvets, quilts, sleeping bags, pillows, cushions and carpets are not accepted.
An analysis of rubbish bins in Suffolk revealed around 7,000 tonnes of clothing and textiles end up in landfill every year.