2018-09-13 / Front Page

Middletown Adds Recycling Option

By Christopher Allen

Middletown residents looking to rid themselves of unwanted items will get an additional option if a planned partnership with a for-profit company is executed with the town.

At the urging of Middletown recycling coordinator and operations and facilities manager Will Cronin, the Town Council voted on Sept. 4 to authorize town administrator Shawn Brown to seal an agreement with SimpleRecycling, an Ohio-based firm that partners with a number of cities and towns across the country, collecting discarded clothing and other textiles to be recycled and resold.

“It’s a win-win, as far as I’m concerned,” Town Council President Robert Sylvia said.

Sylvia said that the service that the company is offering is too good to pass up.

“First of all, it’s free…that’s the biggest step in the right direction. The program costs us nothing. They handle everything and we get a percentage of the revenue that’s coming in,” he said.

Nationally, about 14.3 million tons of clothing ends up in landfills, representing about 85 percent of the total discarded. Only 15 percent is recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The average American throws away about 70 pounds of clothing and textiles annually. SimpleRecycling claims to collect 30 pounds a year per household.

SimpleRecycling follows the same pick-up schedule as the city or town in which it is operates, allowing customers to bag up clothing and other textiles to be discarded along with trash and recycling materials. The SimpleRecycling bags will be placed alongside current trash and recycling receptacles.

“When you put out material, they will take it and leave another bag for you to put out material at a later date,” Cronin said. “We will give them all of our routes and holidays.”

The new service should be implemented within two months. As the launch date approaches, town officials will be working to get the word out to the community.

Although a complete list of acceptable items will be finalized in the contract, Cronin said other materials will include jewelry, rags, sewing material, bedding, purses, toys, towels and certain small electronic items.

Residents will still be welcome to donate clothing to local charitable organizations.

“I encourage people to donate what they can to those organizations,” Cronin said. “This is a for-profit company... there is a convenience factor. [It is positive] if we are able to divert some materials out of our waste stream.”

Middletown currently pays “tipping fees” on a per-ton basis to transfer refuse to the landfill. The total tonnage of discarded items that will be accepted into the SimpleRecycling bags will be subtracted from what is usually thrown into the refuse pile, reducing those fees to the town.

Residents may also be able to save money on the current yellow trash bag program, known as “Pay as You Throw,” in which trash bags are purchased by residents. Currently, 15-gallon bags cost $1.75 apiece while the 33-gallon bags are $2.

In addition to cost savings, Sylvia said the agreement with SimpleRecycling will also provide an aesthetic benefit to the town. In recent years, there have been issues with unattended donation collection bins that were placed in various locations, such as in shopping plaza parking lots, where unwanted items were sometimes tossed in and around the area.

“They get packed…people throw bags on the ground. This is going to eliminate all of that,” Sylvia said.

The agreement will stipulate that the company pay back the town a $20 fee per ton of the materials collected. Brown told the council that revenue collected from the company will go to the town Refuse and Recycling Fund.

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