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Health Board, Schools Look at Recycling Textiles

The Board of Health and three School Committee members were given a pitch by Bay State Textiles on March 7 on – literally – the value of recycling textiles. The company promised to pay $100 per ton of collected material to the town, School Department or designated charity.

Unfortunately for the School Department, Town Counsel Gerald Moody ruled the next day that the collection containers are not allowed in the residential zones in which all public school buildings are located, according to Building Commissioner John Erickson. Health Agent Paul Mazzuchelli said on March 8 that the Board of Health will proceed with getting a collection trailer at its Cedar St. [Rt. 85] Transfer Station.

"It's a somewhat simple program. It runs itself," explained Kathryn Larsen, Recycling Development coordinator for the Pembroke-based company, to the two boards. After four years in business, "We're not the biggest. We're not the smallest, but we want to be the best," she said.

Health Board members were quick to look at the cost benefits. "They [the Wheelabrator incinerator in Millbury] charge us $66 a ton, starting July 1," to take it," Mazzuchelli explained. Board member Kenneth Evans said he wanted a collection trailer at the town's Transfer Station as soon as possible.

School Committee members Michael Walsh, Joseph Morais and Erickson also liked the idea of placing collection containers on school grounds and using the revenue to fund some school-related activities. Walsh said he would work to get Larsen onto his committee's March 17 agenda to make a presentation to the full School Committee. Erickson said he needed to check with Moody on whether having the collection boxes at the schools would violate the town's Zoning By-laws. Currently, a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals is needed in order to have clothing collection boxes in commercially zoned areas.

Larsen said her company currently has 370 collection boxes in 49 towns and school districts, with the closest being Hopkinton and Medway.

Information she handed out to the two boards' members said the average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing, shoes and other textiles each year. Given Milford's population, that number translates into 1,134 tons. With Milford bringing 8,580 tons of trash to the incinerator each year, and statistics showing six percent of trash is textile waste, that would mean 515 less tons, she calculated. And, if each of the town's students brought in two 10-pound bags of unwanted textiles, that would equate to 421 tons, Larsen noted.

Mazzuchelli said the Board of Health could create a new regulation stating that no textiles could be thrown out for curbside pickup. That would mean educating the public that "We are now recycling a new material that we don't [recycle] right now."

Health board members said they would want the $100 per ton rebate coming into their budget, and not going to a private organization.

What Textiles Would be Recycled?

If Milford adopts Bay State Textiles' recycling rebate program, the following items would be accepted:

• Footwear: shoes, boots, sneakers, heels, work boots, cleats, pumps, dress boots, slippers, sandals, winter boots and flip-flops.

• Clothing: tops, pants, undergarments, sweaters, jeans, socks, sweatshirts, sweatpants, T-shirts, dresses, skirts, slips, tank tips, shorts, pajamas, blazers, slacks and coats.

• Accessories: hats, gloves, scarves, pocketbooks, duffle bags, totes, belts, ties and bathrobes.

• Linens: sheets, aprons, comforters, blankets, dish towels, throw runs, draperies, table linens and place mats.

• Other: stuffed animals.


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