Stillwater has new way to recycle textiles

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesotans throw away nearly 12 grocery carts full of clothing and fabrics every minute. But for Stillwater residents, recycling old clothes is now as easy as recycling milk jugs and pop cans.

Simple Recycling is a new curbside service which provides the Stillwater community with an easy option for recycling clothing and household items. The service began collections in the city July 24.

Residents receive plastic, drawstring bags, which can be filled with clothes and other fabrics, as well as some small electrical devices.

Neither the city nor residents pay for the service. In fact, the city will receive a penny per pound of material collected. The city council approved a contract with Great Lakes Recycling, Inc., doing business as Simple Recycling, in March.

“You can place textiles, such as clothing, bedding pills, shoes [in the bag],” said Paul Gardner, who presented the concept to Stillwater in March on behalf of Simple Recycling. “You can put in things like sporting goods, small electrical devices, small vacuum cleaners and the like. Put them in or near the bag at the end of your driveway on the same day as recycling day.”

According to Gardner, with curbside pickup, cities generally see an average of about 10 pounds of textiles collected per household each year. With roughly 7,500 households in Stillwater, that would work out to about 75,000 pounds a year, which would earn the city $750.

“The amount you’d get back is not significant,” Gardner said. “It’s the kind of thing that might get you some park benches or tree plantings on your public property, but it isn’t going to support your pothole filling and streetlight program.”

But he said it does reduce waste and help the city meet expectations set by the county.

The city of Stillwater encourages residents to continue donating gently used items to local charities, as a first choice. But items that are unfit for donation can now be easily recycled, instead of going into a landfill.

Once the materials are hauled away by Simple Recycling, the top 10-20 percent of materials collected are sold to local thrift stores, while 80 percent are either exported internationally or broken down for raw materials, the company’s literature says.

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Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]