Photo: Jill Dion / Hearst Connecticut Media
Textile is the word of the day in Milford.
City officials held a short ribbon cutting ceremony July 10 in front of Milford City Hall to kick off a textile recycling program, which will see residents getting pink bags into which they can place clothing and other home goods for curbside pickup.
Bill Plantamura, the city’s sanitation foreman, said some people aren’t clear on what is included in a list of textiles.
“My own mother called me and asked what goes into the bag,” Plantamura said.
According to the Simple Recycling website, the for-profit company that will pick up the items, textiles include clothing, coats and jackets, jewelry, shoes, purses, hats, blankets, even silverware and dishes, and more.
A complete list can be found on the company’s website, simplerecycling.com.
The Board of Aldermen voted last year to enter an agreement for “soft” recyclable pick up with Great Lakes Recycling, Inc., doing business as Simple Recycling, and Mayor Ben Blake pointed out this week that this is just another alternative for residents. It doesn’t mean residents shouldn’t donate their clothing and home goods to Goodwill, their church or other charity groups if that’s what they usually do.
“This is for the people that throw these into their garbage, and it ends up in the solid waste stream rather than being recycled,” Blake said.
Residents have received or will soon receive a packet in the mail including two pink bags for clothing and other items they want to get rid of. The bags will be picked up by Simple Recycling every other week on the same schedule as the city’s recycling pickups, starting July 15. The bags must be placed next to the recycling bin, not inside the bin.
Condominiums are not included in the program, but condominium residents may bring their textiles to the transfer station, where a bin will be placed.
The city will get $40 per ton of textiles, where it would have paid about $100 a ton to get rid of them if those items were thrown out with the trash.
During a meeting last year when the aldermen approved the agreement, Public Works Director Chris Saley said the city won’t make a lot of money on the program, but it’s the right thing to do.
“It’s really where we’re trying to go down the road,” Saley said last April. “A lot of people throw away their clothing and it goes to the burn plant.” He credited Plantamura with bringing the program here after meeting textile recyclers at a conference. Plantamura said bringing the program to Milford has been two years in the works.
Steve Johnson, the city’s open space and natural resource agent, focused on the environmental benefits too.
“The most important thing is we’re keeping it out of the landfill, for continuous use,” Johnson said.
Right now, only 15 percent of textiles get recycled, and the other 85 percent take up valuable space in waste-to-energy plants, according to the Simple Recycling website.
The textiles collected in Milford will go to Stamford to be sorted into three categories. Items in good shape will be sold to thrift stores; items in reasonable to good shape but perhaps out of date will be sold for a lesser amount to distributors that send them overseas, and items that cannot be used will be sold for even less to the recycling industry.
Residents can participate or not. If residents leave a bag or bags at curbside, Simple Recycling will replace them with empty bags when they pick them up. People can also go to the website and request more bags.
Sonny Wilkins of Simple Recycling couldn’t confirm what time of day the textile bags will be collected. Some of that will be determined as routes are worked out. Wilkins said Simple Recycling has been in business about five years and works with 200 municipalities in nine states.