Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh city leaders are looking to take recycling one step further with a pilot program to allow people to find a new use for items they usually throw away.
Residents like Leslie English helped recycle more than 29,000 tons of materials in 2016, and she said she would do more if she could.
“I recycle everything. I recycle plastics, aluminum, anything the City of Raleigh allows, I definitely put in there,” she said. “I have bags of things inside right now, clothes my son has ruined, and I know I can’t give them away and I don’t want to throw them away.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American throws away 70 pounds of worn out clothing and other textiles each year.
“Our goal is to make textile collection convenient for residents,” said Bianca Howard, an environmental coordinator for the city.
City officials are currently looking for a company to work with in a three year pilot program. Raleigh residents who participate in curbside recycling will get a special container or bag for textiles. The contracted company would follow the city’s route collecting the items to recycle or reuse.
“The city is very interested in anything we can do to increase our waste diversion rate. We know textiles make up more than 3 percent of what’s being thrown into the landfill,” Howard said.
There is no start date for the textile recycling service, but it could begin within the next few months.
City leaders emphasize the program is not intended to replace donating items to charity, but is for ripped, torn or soiled items that would typically be thrown away.
“I would love them to recycle as much as possible so I’m taking out very little trash. Textiles is one thing that takes up a lot of room and fills up my trash bags fast,” English said.