|In October 2016, The Board of Directors authorized the release of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Textile Recycling (Attachment A). 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: Aluminum cans, Aseptic containers- juice box, milk cartons, cardboard, paperboard, brown paper bags, glass jars and bottles, paper, plastic, phone books and steel cans.
Overall, The Woodlands Township diverts 32% of waste through recycling efforts. In 2016, this amounted to over 14,000 tons of material, equivalent to conserving the annual CO2 emissions from over 7,000 cars. One of the largest items not currently recycled by the Township is textiles. According to the EPA over 85% of textiles are landfilled in the United States (only 15% is donated or recycled). Textiles and clothing comprise 9% of non-recycled waste; 70 lbs/person/year. The concept of this program is that all forms of textiles will be accepted including clothing, towels, rags, carpet, curtains, upholstery, fabric and other. Materials are sorted and sold as used clothing, rags, or recyclable material (processed into thread). Many of the programs also allow small appliances, toys and other small household items to be accepted, as well. These items are also re-sold or recycled. Similar textile recycling programs have begun in the past few years in Sugarland, Texas City, Katy, Keller, Duncanville, Haltom City, Plano, Little Elm, Austin and Bedford.
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.
Request for Proposals were advertised on The Woodlands Township website, in The Woodlands Villager and were sent to two companies that previously expressed interest in serving the community with a Textile Recycling program. Two proposals were submitted:Green City Recycling and Simple Recycling (Attachment B). A synopsis of each proposal has been developed (Attachment C). Three Township staff members reviewed the proposals on the following metrics:
- Company History/Prior Experience - 200 points
- Personnel Qualifications - 150 points
- Collection/Sorting Methods - 150 points
- Equipment Used for Collections and Processing - 150 points
- Revenue Proposal – 550 points
- Public Education Program - 100 points
- Local business presence – 100 points
Upon review of the proposals the scoring identified Simple Recycling with the highest score (12.38) and Green City Recycling with a score of 11.99 (Attachment D - scoring matrix).
An alternative service to curbside pickup already exists in our community which includes various non-profits collecting clothes at homes and drop off bins, which are located outside of the community (Attachment E). Recognizing that some charities rely on clothing donations for support, The Township requires that this program be marketed as “donation first;” that collections are a last resort to keep materials out of the landfill. Additionally, research conducted in 3 cities that instituted curbside recycling showed a positive impact on charitable donations, attributable to the increased awareness of “alternatives” to throwing clothes in the trash. Sugarland, which began curbside recycling a year ago, reports no negative impact on charitable donations.
Waste Management has stated their support for the program; they do not desire to provide this service. They are willing to work with the selected vendor to coordinate routes as textiles service will occur on the same day as Waste Management’s services.