About the Curbside Textile Recycling Program
Each year, only 15 percent of all unwanted clothing in the United States is donated or recycled while approximately 14.3 million tons of clothing (or about 80 pounds per person) end up in landfills. To help divert more clothing out of the local waste stream, the City of Somerville offers a program that makes it easier for residents to recycle unwanted clothes and accessories.
Curbside textile recycling pickup, through City contractor Simple Recycling, is available to residences already receiving City trash and recycling services, and occurs on the same schedule as each household’s weekly trash and recycling pickup.
Eligible residents with clothing or other household textiles to discard can simply place them in the pink Simple Recycling bags and put them out on the curb next to their trash and recycling on pickup day. Items to be collected include clothing, shoes, jewelry, blankets, drapes, dishes, silverware, and more. For a complete list, visit www.simplerecycling.com. Wherever Simple Recycling picks up filled bags, they will leave behind free replacement pink bags.
“We still want residents who already donate directly to area nonprofits or other clothing collection efforts to continue to do so, but this new service aims to make recycling easier for people who otherwise wouldn’t donate or recycle their old clothing. It will reduce waste, which is good for the environment, and reduce waste removal costs, which is good for local taxpayers,” said Oliver Sellers Garcia, Director of the City’s Office of Sustainability and Environment.
Simple Recycling works with several thrift stores to resell up to 20% of the collected material. Of the remaining roughly 80% of the material that is not sellable in the United States, some is sent for sale internationally and the remainder is used as raw material. Overall, about 40% of the collected material is reused or repurposed as secondhand clothing, 30% is reused as rags and/or industrial material such as absorbents, and 30% is recycled into home insulation, carpet padding, and raw material for the automotive industry.
Eligible residents may request bags by calling (866) 835-5068, by filling out this form, or by emailing [email protected]. Residents who wish to donate to a local organization can find a list of nonprofits who will schedule a curbside pickup at www.somervillema.gov/recycling (click “Charitable Donations”). Scroll down for more information about this program.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does this program work?
Eligible residents may request bags by calling (866) 835-5068, by filling out this form, or by emailing [email protected]. Residents can fill them in with clothing, shoes, and accessories and keep these bags on the curb on trash day. A small truck by Simple Recycling will pick them up every week, on the same schedule as weekly trash/recycling pick-up.
Is there a limit on the number of bags people can get? How much do they cost?
The bags are free. Every time a bag is picked up, an additional empty bag is left at the residence for future use.
How can I order more bags?
Who drops off the bags if a resident didn’t get any?
Simple Recycling will make arrangements to drop off the bag via post/courier or their recycling truck operators.
How do I report a missed Textile Recycling (pink bag) pick up?
How much will this program cost the City?
This program will have no cost to the City or residents.
Who is the contractor?
A company called Simple Recycling has been contracted for this program.
Why is the City working with this specific Company?
The City of Somerville issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) requesting curbside textile recycling services. Based on the responses received, qualification of the company, interview, and references, this contract was awarded to Simple Recycling.
Who do they sell/donate the clothes to?
Simple Recycling works with several thrift stores to resell up to 20% of the collected material. About 80% of the material is not sellable in the US. Therefore, it gets sorted out at the Simple Recycling facility. Whatever can be used in the international market gets delivered the relevant international market. Rest of the material is used as a raw material.
On a broad scale, 40% material is reused or repurposed as secondhand clothing, 30% is reused as rags and/or industrial material such as absorbents, and 30% is recycled into home insulation, carpet padding, and raw material for automotive industry.
Does the City get any portion of the sales for any programs of our own?
Contractually, City will receive $20/ton collection from Simple Recycling under this program.