Here’s how to take advantage of soft recycling services in Oakland County

Here’s how to take advantage of soft recycling services in Oakland County

While the upcoming school year knocks on the door, cities in southwest Oakland County need not throw last season’s clothes away. The nine cities encompassed by the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County, which are Farmington, Farmington Hills, Milford, Milford Township, Novi, South Lyon, Southfield, Walled Lake and Wixom, are reminding residents that old clothes can be recycled right on the curb.

South Lyon and Wixom became the first two cities in the country to pilot a curbside program with Simple Recycling, which takes care of “soft recyclables” like clothing, in 2014. The rest of the authorities partnered with Simple Recycling in 2016. Simple Recycling is a for-profit recycling company that comes at no cost to residents.

“Eighty-five percent of the clothing we want to discard on an annual basis is just thrown away in landfills,” said Mike Csapo, general manager of the Recycling Authority. “Most of the clothing that we want to get rid of isn’t donated or otherwise reused or resold. So in order to capture that material, Simple Recycling tried to make it as easy as possible to get rid of it.”

Clothes picked up curbside by Simple Recycling first head to local resale shops. If they’re turned away there, the clothes are shipped overseas and, if they still cannot be sold, are recycled into things like rags.

“It’s one more option for people to put something back into the value chain instead of in their trash can,” Csapo said. “This is a program that competes with landfills for materials, not with charities.”

Residents to the five cities are sent Simple Recycling’s bright orange bags to set clothes on the curb. When the bags are picked up on a person’s designated rubbish pick-up day, new bags are left in their place for the homeowner to use. Homeowners can also call 866-835-5068 to request more bags.

Csapo stressed that, if people can, donating to local charities is always preferable for giving their clothes new life. But, if that’s not possible, he said the Simple Recycling program is in the neighborhood every week.

“We always encourage that people first consider charitable giving, there’s plenty of charitable organizations out there that can use a lot of the stuff that we want to throw away,” he said.

The City of Livonia is currently considering whether to adopt the program, so its services may soon be coming to Livonia.

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