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Should Austin continue to have old clothes picked up curbside?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 by Jessi Devenyns

After a tumultuous debate last year as to whether or not Simple Recycling would continue their curbside pickup of textiles, Austin Resource Recovery is now considering extending their contract past next year. Although the Zero Waste Advisory Commission did not make any recommendations at its April 11 meeting, it asked Austin Resource Recovery to continue the discussion at a future meeting. Commissioner Kaiba White noted that the contract was important because “obviously there are a lot of people who are not going to take their items to be donated, sadly.”

In 2017, there were significant concerns from local nonprofits that this recycling service would divert clothing donations from being taken to nonprofit centers. Although Austin Resource Recovery requested data on the impacts nonprofits have seen since Simple Recycling began operating in December 2016, it never received any. Despite the lack of information from the charities, however, in order to allow the company to continue with as little adverse effect as possible to local donation centers, the original contract was amended to include a provision that states that 40 percent of materials collected by Simple Recycling will be sold to local markets by June 2018.

Austin Resource Recovery shows that 14 percent of its customers are currently participating in the program and 590,273 pounds of materials have been collected since December 2016. Simple Recycling does not pick up at multifamily units. Recently, Simple Recycling submitted data to Austin Resource Recovery indicating that Austin ranked 112 out of 113 cities around the country with the service in terms of pounds of recycled textiles per households. “I’m hoping the reason is we’re 112 is because people are still utilizing Salvation Army (and) Goodwill,” noted Chair Gerry Acuna.

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