Aldermen quash soft recycling program in standing committee


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Joan Farrell, vice president and general counsel at Goodwill Industries. Aldermen struck down a proposal for a new recycling program.

Ryan Wangman, City Editor

Aldermen trashed a proposed recycling program at an Administration and Public Works committee meeting Monday, citing concerns over how the plan would impact local charitable organizations.

Aldermen voted 3-1 to deny the proposal, which was recommended by city staff and would have authorized the city manager to execute a contract with Simple Recycling for the curbside collection of soft recyclables — items that weigh less than fifty pounds and can be carried by one person. Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) dissented.

Joan Farrell, vice president and general counsel at Goodwill Industries, said before the vote that the items Simple Recycling would collect are crucial to their business in Evanston. She said it “pains us” to see donations sitting in bags curbside weathering the elements and not being taken care of.

“We were founded 100 years ago on this recycling principle,” Farrell said. “I like to say Goodwill was green before it was even cool to be green.”

Farrell said the revenue generated from the sales of the donations in Goodwill’s Evanston location go toward the organization’s mission of helping people in the community who are “disabled and disadvantaged.” She said that the group has also used sales money raised to invest $1.5 million to build a donation center and the store, and that they have hired 45 people at the store — 17 of which are from Evanston.

Paul Gardner — director of regional municipal partnerships at a WasteZero, a contractor responsible for marketing the program in Illinois — said before the vote that the contract would allow Chicago area thrift stores to receive “higher level material,” and that “worn and torn” material would go to create products like insulation and industrial wipers.

The contractor collecting the soft recyclables would have paid the city a fee of one cent per pound of gross receipts for those recyclables and had the potential to “divert a large amount of material from the landfill,” according to the city documents. This would have resulted in additional city revenue ranging from $60 to $250 a month, based on a city staff review of other municipalities already using the services.

The program would have required no city funding to operate, and would have allowed residents of single family homes or buildings of five or fewer units the ability to recycle materials not currently handled by the city’s weekly recycling program.
Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) told The Daily she decided to vote against the proposal because she agreed with Farrell’s reasoning that the introduction of the new program would have negatively impacted organizations like Goodwill. She said that people would be “throwing their crap in bags” and putting it on street curbs.

Rainey added that the city wants to support groups that provide jobs and tax deductions for donations.

“(The contract) just diminishes all of the contributions that we all make to Goodwill and Salvation Army,” Rainey said at Monday’s council meeting.

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