You know that bag that has been sitting by your front door for days or weeks, ready to go to Goodwill? Is it really going to make it or will it end up in the trash? How about the clothes in the back of your closet that you’ve always meant to sell at the consignment store but are only taking up much needed space?
Soon residents in Lansing and East Lansing will be able to get rid of those bags of old clothes and shoes without contributing to rapidly filling landfills. Simple Recycling goes beyond traditional recycling. They work with already functioning recycling programs to allow residents the opportunity to recycle items that once would have ended up in the trash.
They give you the bag, you fill it with your stuff, and set it on the curb on recycling day. They either recycle it or sell it back to places that will use it. Simple.
The Problem Being Solved:
Simple Recycling wants to solve the simple problem of too much waste. According to the EPA, 85% of textiles (soft clothing items) end up in landfills. But 100% of those materials are recyclable and reusable. Simple Recycling wants to give those items new life and keep them out of the landfills. They do this by finding the best use for the materials in a way that uses the minimum amount of resources.
Where the idea came from:
When founder Adam Winfield saw the EPA figures and the data from waste and recycling streams, he saw it as an opportunity to make a difference locally, regionally and across the country. There was already a model in place for recycling programs so all he had to do was build on to that. “It’s a simple idea,” he says, “But no one has done it.”
Adam finds the simplicity of the program exciting. “We are giving residents an easy way to recycle these types of materials. It’s just as easy as throwing them away.”
Adam sees it has an opportunity to make a difference and have a huge impact on what goes into landfills.
The biggest challenge Simple Recycling has faced is bringing the municipalities and cities on board and getting the ok to move forward. The service is free to the resident and the city, and Simple Recycling handles all handling and processing. The challenge is making this known the communities.
Adam had seen the numbers and understood that people had a lot of stuff they no longer wanted, but he is still surprised at the amount of these kinds of materials being consistently generated by participants. He’s pleasantly surprised at how many residents have adopted the program and at just how much stuff they’ve been able to keep out of the landfill.
Simple Recycling’s three year goal is to have regional operation encompassing municipalities in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, as well as partnerships in the Northeast and the South.
They are well on their way with 12 different municipalities currently participating and another 10 that are in the contract review process.
Adam’s advice to young entrepreneurs is to make sure there is a value proposition for everyone involved. “If there isn’t, it will be much more difficult to get the momentum you need.”