August 28, 2019

Council Considers Recycling Plan for Clothing, Electronics

By Anne Levin

A company that helps keep used clothing and electronics out of landfills is interested in partnering with the municipality. At a meeting of Princeton Council on Monday, August 26, Bob Anderson of Curb My Clutter made a presentation describing the firm’s services, which are in keeping with the goals of the town’s Climate Action Plan.

“Traditional methods of curbside collections aren’t effective for clothing and electronics,” Anderson told the Council. “Some 85 percent of clothing in the United States today ends up in the landfill. And households are chock full of electronic materials, but people are afraid to recycle them because of fear of identity theft.”

Most people wear about 30 percent of the clothes in their closet. The idea is to eventually regenerate cotton material back into thread, “so clothing can be made into new clothing,” Anderson said. That technology “is not what’s happening now, but it’s where we want to go.”

Residents use software the company
has developed when they want something picked up, texting the word “pickup.” Curb My Clutter partners with a company called Star Disposal to schedule the collection of items. Participants can earn rewards, such as Amazon gift cards.

Improper disposal of used electronics is a major environmental hazard, Anderson said. The used electronics and apparel currently landfilled is worth billions of dollars annually in the recycling and refurbishment market, he added.

The company’s fees to collect used televisions and other electronics can range from $30 to $100, depending on the size. Among its existing clients are Westfield, Gloucester Township, and Swedesboro in New Jersey; Royersford, Swarthmore, Phoenixville, and Newtown Township in Pennsylvania; and several others.

Asked by Council members what the value of the service is to a municipality, Anderson said “It’s another tool for handling electronics. We’re another tool for your public works department.”

Ten percent of the revenue comes back to the community. The company asks for community engagement to promote the program. Council members agreed to look into partnering with the service.

Princeton Theological Seminary

Councilman David Cohen reported a delay in resolving the question of whether to expand designation of the area in need of redevelopment on the Princeton Theological Seminary campus, a project which has been under discussion since September 2018. The issue has yet to be taken up by the Planning Board, and will likely be on the agenda the last Thursday in September.

“If the Planning Board is in favor of examining whether the area should be expanded, they’ll vote and it will go to the planning consultant,” said Cohen, who chairs the ad hoc committee on the issue. “We know the Seminary has been doing some design work in expectation that this will happen. So the next neighborhood meetings would be in late November, where the designs would be shown. Then the as hoc committee would meet to comment on those plans.”