Throwaway January

Over the past two years, we have engaged, very successfully, with the national news media on the issues facing our charity network partners; shining a particular spotlight on the challenges of Hygiene Poverty – the choice many families face, between eating and keeping clean.

As we start the year, we know that January is the biggest month of the year for surplus product and we have a unique opportunity to connect with more new product donors during the post-Christmas period.

We know that consumer behaviour has the ability to change the way a company does business and wanted to find out what the wider public think about product giving, waste and sustainability. To launch our campaign, we commissioned a survey of 4001 people, aged 16-75 across the UK to find out. The results clearly demonstrate the potential value of product giving to donor companies and the expectation of their customers and we hope will encourage more and more donors to think about what they choose to do with their surplus stock.


Prince of Wales charity urges businesses to tackle ‘throwaway January’ as unsold product levels peak


More than half of Brits say they would change their shopping habits to exert pressure on retailers who get rid of their surplus stock rather than giving it to charity, according to new research released today by In Kind Direct, a UK charity founded by HRH The Prince of Wales.

Britain’s wasteful, throwaway culture peaks during January, when two-thirds of Brits clear-out at home, and businesses see their surplus stock at its highest levels – with unsold goods often heading to landfill, incineration or discount retailers.

More than half of Brits (52%) say they would feel disappointed if they knew that a business wasn’t giving its surplus stock to charity for people in need, and more than half (51%) would actually go as far as choosing to shop in other stores. In fact, three out of five people (60%) aged 16-24 said they would take their custom elsewhere.

Almost three quarters (73%) of Brits said they will be throwing away clothes this month, whilst two in five people (38%) admitted that they will be getting rid of their unwanted Christmas presents. A quarter of people said they will be getting rid of their toiletries.

These new figures have prompted an urgent call from charity In Kind Direct for retailers and manufacturers to tackle our throwaway culture and prevent their unsold products from going to waste, by donating them to charity to help people in need and protect the environment. This action continues the commitments In Kind Direct made in its manifesto; Join the Product Giving Revolution.

This call to action is echoed by the vast majority of Brits (74%) who believe that retailers’ surplus stock should be donated to charity, with three out of five people saying that these businesses have a responsibility to do so.

Now more than ever, consumer purchasing power is changing the way businesses operate. Over three quarters of Brits (87%) think that consumers can influence the way retailers and manufacturers do business.


Retail and consumer expert, Kate Hardcastle, says:

“Retail businesses need to listen to the wishes of customers more than ever before. Trading ethically and respectfully is high up on a customer’s wish list.

“With the growth of social media, consumers are instantly connected and are happy to spread the word about organisations that are mindful of the environment and their social responsibilities.

“It makes good business sense for organisations to put their surplus stock to good use to help communities, not least because this new research highlights just how much customers appreciate it and it’s an obvious way to reflect their wishes.”

Billions of pounds of unwanted, surplus consumer goods are produced in the UK each year according to research carried out by PwC, on behalf of In Kind Direct. This demonstrates the vast scale of excess products being produced and the huge opportunity this presents for product donation.


Vismay Sharma, L’Oréal UK & Ireland Managing Director, says: 

“As a leading beauty company, we’re committed to being a responsible business; owning our impact in the communities in which we operate and reducing our environmental footprint.

“Working in partnership with In Kind Direct allows us to support communities across the UK, ensuring our surplus stock is put to good use, and into the hands of people who really need them.

“This model to donate, as opposed to sending product to waste or be destroyed, reduces our impact on the environment and also avoids costs for the business. We’re very proud of our 20-year partnership with In Kind Direct and using our products as a force for good.”

Nine out of ten Brits (91%) said they would support a charity that works with manufacturers and retailers to distribute unwanted products to people who really need them.

Founded 23 years ago by HRH The Prince of Wales, charity In Kind Direct distributes a broad range of consumer products donated by companies to charities and community organisations across the UK.


Robin Boles,  Former Chief Executive of In Kind Direct, says:

“It’s clear from our new research that consumers are really switched on to the issues of waste and sustainability and, as a result, are becoming more discerning about their shopping habits.

“More and more businesses are thinking about the impact they are having on the environment and what they can do to improve any negative effect their businesses make. At the same time, employees are choosing to work in companies that take positive social action.

“We have seen a sharp rise in the number of people who increasingly rely on support from charities across the UK and the products we supply. We are committed to meeting the critical needs of those charities and their beneficiaries now and into the future.

“This demonstrates the huge opportunity for more companies to help their communities by donating their products to In Kind Direct.  In Kind Direct is the only organisation which has taken on the administrative and logistical complexity of distributing donated products to charities serving people in need throughout the UK.

“Despite having worked with 9,600 charities so far, helping more than two million people every year, there is still so much more that can be done.”

Donna Golding, CEO of charity BEE Wirral CIC, said:

“The products we have been receiving from In Kind Direct for the last three years are crucial to the services we can afford to run for local people. The savings we make by accessing these products mean we can run other vital services, as we are a not for profit organisation.

“The benefits filter down across all of our work. We live in an area with high deprivation and are overrun with requests for products and food from people in need who rely on our social supermarket.

“Families also come to us on Fridays to wash their children’s clothes and uniforms, using the washing products we receive.

“Being able to access the products from In Kind Direct, such as toothpaste, nappies, sanitary products, washing powder, toys and baby wipes, really makes all the difference to us.

“We would encourage retailers to donate their unsold products to In Kind Direct so they can distribute them and share the good will within communities. People in desperate need and who can’t afford to buy these products at the moment may become your loyal customers of the future.”

In Kind Direct is distributing more products than ever before. The charity has distributed £200 million in donated products to mostly small charities since operations began in 1997.

Through its manifesto, Join the Product Giving Revolution, In Kind Direct is calling on more manufacturers and retailers to build product giving into their everyday operations. This will benefit communities, their business and the environment – helping to tackle at the grassroots ‘hygiene poverty’ and other important social issues through its growing network of charities.


To discuss product giving, please contact Maya, Ellie or Chris at or call         0300 3020 200.

For help joining our network, please contact Charlotte, Claire, Jessica or Ellie at or call 0300 3020 200.