|The Woodlands Township currently offers a robust waste removal and recycling service that endeavors to remove materials from the waste stream through recycling. There is also a significant program for green waste (grass clippings, tree debris, and other organic material). The main component of the current recycling service includes a once per week fully automated curbside trash collection utilizing a 96-gallon cart with yellow lid which can accept:
Overall, The Woodlands Township diverts 32% of waste through recycling efforts. In 2015 this amounted to over 37,000 tons of materials which is equivalent to conserving the annual CO2 emissions from 20,000 cars.
- Aluminum cans
- Aseptic containers- juice box, milk cartons
- Cardboard, paperboard, brown paper bags
- Glass jars and bottles,
- Phone books
- Steel cans
Two of the largest items that are currently not recycled by the Township include textiles and food. Data shows that over 85% of textiles are landfilled in the United States. Textiles and clothing comprise 9% of non-recycled waste; 70 lbs/person/year. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) lists increasing convenience and ease as the most effective strategy for enhancing recycling participation rates. Weekly curbside recycling is significantly easier and more convenient for residents than locating and transporting textiles to area receptacles. Plus, experience shows that receptacles can be an unsightly mess when not serviced often enough. Food recycling needs to be addressed, but at this time staff has not identified vendors for this service.
Two companies have approached the Township and offered free curbside pick-up of textiles and small household items. The usable items would go to non-profit, charitable thrift stores and the unusable items would be recycled. Currently, one firm offers a payment of $20 per ton for textiles. The Recycler will handle all aspects of the launch, collection, processing and management of the program. Demands on the Environmental Services Department will involve updating existing educational materials and website and handling occasional questions and issues from residents.
Staff contacted one city using the service that has a similar number of single family homes and in the first two months they diverted 100,000 pounds from the landfill and were paid $1000. In Texas a number of communities have signed on or are in the process of signing on for this service, including Texas City, Katy, Keller, Duncanville, Haltom City, Little Elm, Austin and Bedford. An alternative service to this already exists in the community which includes various non profits collecting clothes via collection at homes and drop off bins, which are located outside of the community. While these exist, research indicates the easier it is made to recycle a higher participation rate can be achieved.
Waste Management was been contacted about the potential new service who stated they do not plan to provide this service and support any Township efforts and are willing to work with the selected vendor to coordinate routes. The goal would be for the pick-up for the textiles be on the same day as other solid waste and recycling services are picked-up by Waste Management.
As there have been two firms that have been identified that can provide curbside textile recycling, it is recommended to issue an Request For Proposals (RFP) for curbside textile recycling services, which would not necessitate capital or operational expenses. A draft RFP has been prepared for Board consideration ( Attachment A).
Upon Board approval, the RFP will be released and advertised with the submitted proposals presented to the Board for consideration in early 2017.