Some Local Charities Worried About Cincinnati's Curbside Textile Recycling Program

May 1, 2017

Some charitable organizations are concerned Cincinnati's new curbside textile recycling program could reduce the donated items they receive.

Representatives of the Salvation Army, Goodwill, and St. Vincent de Paul offered testimony Monday to City Council's Neighborhoods Committee.

The city's pickup program has been operating for about six weeks.  

Major Nancy Beauchamp with the Salvation Army said it has had an impact. "If this continues, it's going to hurt us," she said. "It did hurt us before they even started because people started to save clothes to give to them."

The two other organizations also expressed similar concerns. They all said the city's new curbside program will not put them out of business, but they said it could force them to reduce the services they provide to the community.

"We would just ask for some more clarification on where this is going, where the program is headed," said Larry Shields with St. Vincent de Paul. "And how it will impact all of our organizations that are making a big impact, not only to people who need assistance, but providing real jobs and investment in the city of Cincinnati."

City officials said there is no data to suggest the program is hurting gifts to charitable gift stores operated by these groups. They say similar programs have increased donations to thrift stores in other areas.

Cincinnati's Environment and Sustainability Director, Larry Falkin, said most of the textiles and other household items were ending up in trash containers.

"To maximize participation and diversion, you have to do the collection curbside," Falkin said. "If you rely on taking the material somewhere or drop boxes, some people will do it and we encourage them to do it. But some people won't, and in some situations, it's not convenient for people."

The program does not cost Cincinnati any money and, in fact, is turning a small profit.

The council committee is asking city administrators to monitor the concerns and provide an update in about six months.