Tue March 15, 2011

Daily Journal

Beecher is considering reversing its own two-year old ban prohibiting clothing and shoe collection boxes in the village in light of a proposal by USAgain to share a percentage of its revenue on items donated for resale or recycling.

USAgain is a Chicago based, for-profit company that collects unwanted textiles and resells them in the United States and abroad.

Carlo Cavallaro, governmental affairs director for USAgain, spoke to the village board Monday and said the revenue sharing would be based on a percentage of the annual commodity rate on recycled clothing and textiles.

“We would estimate Beecher to handle three-to five bins and an average bin can generate between $1,015 to $2,000 annually in revenue sharing,’’ Cavallaro said. The village would have to revise its existing ordinance banning clothing collection bins, Mayor Paul Lohmann said.

“We banned these bins in 2009 for a reason,” said Trustee Brian Cleary. “There’s not a lot of good publicity for you on the Web,” he said to Cavallaro, adding that he had researched USAgain.

Cavallaro said that his company has established procedures to avoid the problems of collection boxes becoming public eyesores.

“We have a 24-hour hotline, do weekly maintenance — daily if needed — and have $1 million in liability insurance,’’ Cavallaro said.

USAgain has also changed its box to a bright green and white design. “Our older boxes were a red and white checkerboard design,” Cavallaro said. Other all-red collection bins are owned by other firms.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports on its “Wastes and Resource Conservation” website that 12.7 million tons of textiles were disposed of in 2009, accounting for about 5.2 percent of the total municipal solid waste going to landfills nationwide.

EPA also estimated that recycling textiles accounted for 1.9 million tons that did not go to landfills in 2009.

But while listing the benefits of recycling, EPA also warns that “once clothes get wet, stained or mildewed, they cannot be sold for reuse.”

“Most of the people who use our boxes deposit clean and folded clothing,” Cavallaro said, adding that moisture is not a problem inside the bins.

Cavallaro said that in 2010 USAgain reused and recycled 11.5 million pounds of textiles. “That saved 80 million pounds in carbon dioxide emissions and 71,000 cubic yards of landfill space.

“About 50 percent of the items we collect go back into the domestic market. Between 23 and 25 percent is recycled into textile products and another 25 percent is sold internationally.”

Another meeting set

The proposal will be presented at the March 29 meeting of all local taxing bodies. That meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the Washington Township Center, 30200 Town Center Drive, Beecher. “

I think possible locations could be at the Township Center, where they already have a recycling program, and at the schools,”Lohmann said.

By Bill Byrns