GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- How much garbage do you throw away each week? Now that Grand Rapids has gone to a "Pay as you throw" program, many people are trying to cut back on the amount of garbage they produce to save money. In September, Grand Rapids installed its new program based on the size of the garbage receptacle you use and the frequency of it being picked-up. According to Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, there are many things that you can recycle to save on your garbage and help give back to your community.
Nick Carlson is the Director of Environmental Sustainability of Goodwill Industries based in Grandville. "Since 2008 we've been able to cut our total volume of waste to landfill in half, by finding new markets. We're able to take a former waste source and turn it into a small revenue source." One example would be any broken household appliance, like maybe a toaster. Carlson explains it has a purpose with Goodwill. "Any appliances that we're unable to sell, we'll cut off the copper wire and re-sell it into the scrap metals market and get some decent value out of this."
Ripped or torn clothing is another example of something once thought to be garbage that Goodwill Industries is anxious to take off your hands. Jill Wallace, the Chief Marketing Officer of Goodwill Greater Grand Rapids explains. "The shirts that might have holes or the shoes that you may have somehow lost the pair, you have a mismatched shoe, it all has value to it." Goodwill is the largest recycler of textiles in the world. According to Carlson, the Grandville facility does about six million pounds of this material a year. Old belts are another clothing item that has value. "Any of these belts we couldn't sell through our regular retail model, we're now able to package and sell to brokers and this material is going to be shipped overseas," said Carlson.
Have some old board games headed for the garbage? Goodwill will take parts of that too. "This (game box) is a mixed paper grade, stuff you wouldn't necessarily think to send through your county recycling program. But when this game comes in and we lose some of the pieces we can recycle the cardboard as a mixed paper category which will go into making toilet paper and new paper towels," explains Carlson.
Some other recyclables are more obvious and offer more significant space saving to you. "We do a little over one millon pounds of just computers every year out of this plant and we do about a million pounds of televisions out of this plant here," according to Carlson. "We package that up and send it to one of five locations in the country where they disassemble this stuff."
Many random odds and ends that you might not think have any value to anyone else also are quite popular at Goodwill's Outlet Center in Grandville, the only one in the state. All the materials that don't sell at the store end up in large bins that get rotated about eight times per day. Most items in the bin sell for 60 cents per pound. Despite all these new options for recycling, Carlson wants to stress that Goodwill is not a place for people to drop off their garbage. "What I would say is anything that's gently used, anything that may be questionable you can still bring that and we will make the decision on it." Things like soiled mattresses or broken furniture would be items Goodwill does not want however. The main facility is located at 3035 Prairie Street in Grandville.