Clothing, textile recycling program in Niles bringing cash to village as items bypass landfill

Clothing, textile recycling program in Niles bringing cash to village as items bypass landfill

Genevieve BookwalterContact Reporter
Pioneer Press

Niles officials are calling the village’s clothing and textile recycling program an early success, after residents diverted more than two tons of waste from the landfill in the program’s first two days, according to a village newsletter.

“Congratulations, Niles residents! In your first week of textile recycling (June 28 and 29), you diverted 4,270 pounds of waste from the landfill through the village’s free and voluntary textile recycling program!” the newsletter reads.

Niles spokesman Mitchell Johnson said the effort is part of the village’s 2030 Plan and Environmental Action Plan, where leaders have committed to environmentally sustainable practices, like recycling.

“The textile recycling program was a win-win for residents and the village in that residents received a free, convenient and voluntary option for additional recycling while the village expects to benefit with reduced landfill costs and some minor additional revenue from the textiles (savings which trickle down to the taxpayer),” Johnson said in an email to the Niles Herald-Spectator.

Officials say the village stands to save a chunk of money along the way.

Based on a 2015 report, “Illinois residents throw away 333,010 tons of textiles a year!” Johnson said. “At 0.23% of the state’s population, that means Niles residents still throw away an estimated 589 tons of textiles a year. At a $47.25 FY19 SWANCC [Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County] tipping fee per ton for disposal, diverting 589 tons of refuse from the landfill each year could save the taxpayers $27,830.25 annually.”

According to a village news release, residents can stuff specially-marked bags with clothing and other textiles and set the bags at the curb alongside their normal recycling bags.

Simple Recycling, the company operating the program, picks up the bags, weigh them and pays Niles $20 per ton, according to the village website. The program is free to Niles residents.

The recycled clothing and textiles are sorted by Simple Recycling staff at the company’s Chicago center, according to the website. About 30 percent is sent to thrift stores and another 30 percent to overseas markets, while the rest is shredded and used for insulation and “fiber for industrial wipers,” according to the website.

“Americans are still throwing away 85 percent of clothing and textiles even with all the charitable donation opportunities, so there is a lot of room for improvement,” according to the website.

The program should help keeps items out of landfills and decrease Niles’ refuse costs, according to the website. The village is expected to reap about $900 each year from the program.

The average home typically donates about seven pounds of clothing and materials per year.

Acceptable items to recycle include clothing, coats and jackets, jewelry, shoes, purses, blankets, sleeping bags, tools, silverware, dishes and more, according to the Simple Recycling website.

Elgin, Skokie, Mount Prospect and Hanover Park also contract with Simple Recycling to handle clothing and textiles, according to the website. Along with Illinois, the company operates in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Minnesota.

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