NEWINGTON - The town is considering curbside clothing collection, as part of a free program already adopted by surrounding towns.
A representative from Simple Recycling recently gave a presentation to Town Councilors, all of whom reacted positively to the idea of offering it to Newington residents.
Since opening a facility in New Britain last October, the company now collects unwanted clothing and household goods there, in West Hartford, Bristol and several other towns. The service comes at no charge to participating municipalities or residents. In fact, towns receive $20 per ton collected, consultant Kirsten Brown told Newington officials.
“A lot of your neighbors are participating,” she said. “It’s kind of a niche market nobody else thought of.”
Residents are provided with bags, which they fill and place curbside next to the blue recycling bin the same day as their regular collection. When these are picked up, replacement bags are left. Any number of additional bags can be requested online if someone has a large amount of items to discard, such as during a move.
Founded four years ago, Simple Recycling has grown to a nationwide collection base of over 3 million homes. New Britain is the closest local hub, with recycling trucks traveling up to a 45-minute radius to service the region. Brown, a consultant for waste reduction corporation Waste Zero, is visiting towns within that radius to spread the word.
“Less than 5 percent of Simple Recycling collection ends up in the incinerator,” she said, adding that this is usually attributed to non-permitted items.
It’s an opportunity for people to recycle items like shoes, curtains, dishes, jewelry and clothing they don’t need any more. After being processed at the New Britain facility, those of the highest quality are sold to local thrift stores, while mid-grade donations are shipped overseas to fill the international need. Unusable items are turned into raw materials used in construction and manufacturing.
Towns sign up for three-year contracts, agreeing to use Simple Recycling as their only curbside textile collector during that time. The company is basically the first of its kind in the area anyway, Brown pointed out.
People who forget to fill the pink bag will remember when they start seeing them popping up roadside, she added.
“You already see them in New Britain and West Hartford. It’s a constant reminder driving through those towns.”
Councilor Gail Budrejko asked about the program’s impact to the non-profit sector, which donates the same items to poor populations here and overseas.
“There hasn’t been any pushback from Goodwill or other organizations,” Brown responded.
Tim Manke pointed out that people often have good intentions to donate old clothes, but end up throwing them out.
“I know what it’s like to drive around with bags in my car for weeks and never get around to Goodwill,” he said. “I think this is a great idea.”
The program is expected to be discussed again at an upcoming council meeting.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097, or email@example.com.
Some interesting facts:
85 percent of clothing ends up in landfills, while only 15 percent is donated for reuse.
The average person throws away 68 pounds of clothing per year.
Clothing and house wares account for approximately 10 percent of the municipal waste stream.
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)