This spring Coventry is expected to join cities and towns throughout the state in an effort to cut back on solid waste and increase their recycling through Waste Zero and Simple Recycling’s curbside textile recycling program. As part of the program, which comes at no cost to the town or taxpayers, residents will receive flyers accompanied by two pink plastic bags. The idea is that residents can fill these bags with unwanted textiles, things like clothing, bedspreads, handbags, hats and curtains, in order for them to be recycled.

The idea is that by putting the items out to the curb, residents are putting less into their trash. The town currently pays about $47 per ton to dispose of its waste with the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Center, so the reduction in solid waste will be beneficial to saving taxpayer money, according to Coventry Department of Public Works Director Kevin McGee.

Waste Zero Representative Savannah Harik gave the Coventry Town Council a presentation on the program Monday night, and all members were open to giving it a try, particularly because the program comes at no cost to the town. “We help cities and towns save money by decreasing their trash and increasing their recycling,” said Harik.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Harik said, about 85 percent of textiles are thrown in the trash even though they are perfectly reusable and recyclable. “Getting this material out of the waste stream is just one way that we can cut down on what’s going into our landfill, save money and improve the environment,” she said. “Clothing is actually one of the top five contaminates in single stream recycling.”

Harik said Waste Zero partnered with Simple Recycling to address this unique issue. It’s perfect for anyone looking to get rid of clothes that no longer fit, “the one shoe or sock you can never find a match for,” she explained. The program is expected to begin in the spring, McGee said, and will start with all residents receiving mailers along with two pink plastic bags to fill and put out to the curb on the same day their regular recycling is picked up. A Simple Recycling truck who travels the different routes throughout town every day will follow existing recycling routes.

When the folks from Simple Recycling come to pick up the bags they leave more behind, attached to the homeowner’s recycling bins so they don’t blow away. More bags can be ordered by phone or online. The program services 23,000 Rhode Islanders right now, and more than 4.5 million households nationwide. “The program has absolutely no cost to the town or residents,” said Harik. “So the collection is free, the bags are free. There are never any processing fees. They’ll actually pay the town $20 per ton of the material that they collect. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it’s better than residents throwing it in the trash and contaminating the recycling.”

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