2018-12-20 / Around Town

Middletown Kicks Off Recycling Partnership

By Christopher Allen

When Simple Recycling picks up, they will leave a pink replacement pink. When Simple Recycling picks up, they will leave a pink replacement pink. More than two months after the Middletown Town Council voted to partner with an Ohio-based company to collect discarded clothing and other textiles, Middletown rolled out its new recycling program on Dec. 10 by mailing pink plastic trash bags to residents that can be filled and picked up curbside free of charge.

At the urging of Middletown Recycling Coordinator and Operations and Facilities Manager Will Cronin, the council voted on Sept. 4 to authorize Town Administrator Shawn Brown to seal an agreement with Simple Recycling, a company that partners with a number of cities and towns across the country.

The bags, which may contain household items such as clothing, toys, belts and handbags, will be collected along with the same trash and recycling schedule already established by the town. New bags will be sent out to replace those collected. Residents may also use regular trash bags clearly marked “Simple Recycling.”

Cronin said that the inauguration has kicked off smoothly.

“It’s a slow roll-out [because] it’s not required that everyone participate,” he said. “But it’s going well.”

Cronin said that his office had received a handful of inquiries from residents about the newly added service, and that the town was still in the process of getting the word out. Any resident who did not yet receive the pink bags or needed a replenishment should visit Middletown's Department of Public Works at 19 Berkeley Avenue.

In his pitch to the council, Cronin referenced the “tipping fees” on a per-ton basis Middletown pays to transfer refuse to the landfill. The total tonnage of discarded items the company will take will translate into savings to the town. The contract also includes a $20 per-ton payment to the town’s Refuse and Recycling Fund.

The council approved the measure unanimously.

In addition to cost savings, Town Council President Robert Sylvia said the agreement with Simple Recycling 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 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,” he said.

According to data from the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, Middletown generates a monthly average of 227 tons of municipal solid waste and 136 tons of recycling materials.

A Dec. 5 press release from the town stated that Simple Recycling serves 2 million households in eight states and is active in several Massachusetts and Rhode Island communities.

The collected materials are sorted based on quality. Materials in acceptable condition will be resold to local thrift outlets, while others will be exported to international markets. Unusable items will be processed and sold for raw materials.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 85 percent of discarded textiles, or over 14 million tons, end up in the nation’s landfills, representing 6 percent of all municipal trash collected. The average American tosses about 85 pounds of clothing or other textiles annually.

According to the EPA website, only 15 percent of discarded textiles are recycled.

The press release reiterated that the partnership with Simple Recycling is not intended to replace local charities who receive donations from residents.

“The Town of Middletown encourages people to donate clothing and household items in usable condition to local non-profit organizations:” the statement read. “Simple Recycling is a for-profit company whose purpose is to provide a convenient curbside collection option for residents who want it. Ultimately, it’s about keeping those items out of the trash.”

Middletown resident Erin Rinaldi, who has utilized the new service, praised its convenience. "It was great, they picked [the bags] up and left a replacement,” she said. “I’ve already filled a third bag.”

Cronin gave a timely reminder regarding another pertinent recycling issue. As in years past, residents can still dispose of their Christmas trees by placing them out with their regularly scheduled rubbish pick-up during the week of Jan. 14. Along with the recyclables and textiles, the trees will also be repurposed for mulch or compost at the Rhode Island Nurseries on East Main Road.

For more information about the Simple Recycling program, call Middletown’s recycling coordinator at 401-842-6519 or visit refuse collection.middletownri.com.

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