Farmington Hills may join clothing recycling service pilot

RRRASOC general manager Mike Csapo shows off curbside collection bags.
RRRASOC general manager Mike Csapo shows off Simple Recycling’s curbside collection bags.

A clothing and household goods recycling service successfully piloted in Farmington and other Michigan communities may be coming soon to Farmington Hills neighborhoods.

City council members during a Monday study session discussed bringing Simple Recycling to the community, through an addendum to a contract between the Westland-based company and RRRASOC (Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County). If Hills officials agree, residents will be able to fill green bags with clothing and small household goods and leave them at the curb on their usual trash and recycling pick-up days.

RRRASOC General Manager Mike Csapo said, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only about 15 percent of the 75 pounds of clothing a household generates in a year is donated to charitable organizations like Goodwill, Purple Heart, and Salvation Army. The rest gets dumped with the trash.

“We’re trying to capture material that’s going out to the landfill, only for the reason that people don’t have an avenue to get it into the value chain,” he said. Although the program isn’t a big money-maker, “the value-added opportunity this creates is significantly more than if it ends up in the trash.”

RRRASOC receives $20 a ton for materials collected, and there is no cost to participating cities, Csapo said. Simple Recycling also takes care of all customer service calls, including delivery of additional bags. Simple Recycling representative Scott Brady said items are taken to local and regional thrift stores, or may be sold in foreign markets. He said the company uses 20-foot, white box trucks and is shifting over to “sprinter vans” in some markets.

“This is the highest impact environmental initiative a city can implement, with zero cost or operational requirements,” Brady said.

Council member Valerie Knol said she doesn’t want to hurt local charities, but recounted a recent experience with Simple Recycling. Knol donated her late husband’s suits and business attire to a Pontiac charity, but found t-shirts, sweatpants, and other items that she said she would have been “embarrassed” to donate.

“I went to City Hall in Farmington and picked up some (Simple Recycling) bags,” she said. “Luckily, I still have friends in Farmington who were able to put stuff out for me.” While she still plans to give “the good stuff” to charities, Knol added, “I’ve changed my tune.”

Officials are expected to take up the question of whether to allow the service at a future meeting.