Recycling bins will soon have some company alongside the curb, big green bags. They're part of a new service called Simple Recycling. It’s a way to get rid of unwanted items like clothes and shoes, but it may affect charities that depend on donations like that.
Items that go into a Salvation Army donation bin end up on the shelves of its thrift stores. All proceeds from purchases fund the charity's Adult Rehabilitation program, which helps people with alcohol and drug addictions.
“Our adult rehab programs receive zero government money so they're self supportive and these stores are vital to that,” said Major Allen Hellstrom, Capitol Area Coordinator for the Salvation Army.
With more competition from both non-profit and for-profit entities, the Salvation Army’s donation bins don't always get the most foot traffic.
“Yet it comes down to do we believe in our product and do believe in what it does and we do,” Hellstrom added.
Many items that could be recycled end up in landfills, which is why cities like Lansing and East Lansing are offering another option partnering with the for-profit company Simple-Recycling.
“It’s great when people donate to local charitable organizations and we hope they continue to do that, but in fact a lot times that doesn't happen and people just throw the items away,” Lori Welch, Environmental Specialist for the City of Lansing said. “This is a really easy way for them to properly dispose of them.”
Depending on the quality of what's recycled, some of those items may end up in local thrift stores. Simple Recycling says it sells some items to thrift stores, exports others to international markets, or uses the items for raw material.
“We actually get a penny per pound of material that's collected in the city so we'll get a little bit of revenue out of the program,” Welch said.
Both Lansing and East Lansing say the money they get back from the program will be put towards recycling or beautification efforts.
Whether people choose to recycle or donate the hope is fewer items will go to waste.
“Thrift stores are vital no matter what program they support you know that those gently used items will go to help the community and help someone else,” Hellstrom added.