in Follow-Up, Green, Politics, Raleigh

Raleigh charities signed off on Simple Recycling deal

I’m still poking through all the meeting notes, but I thought it notable that the local Salvation Army signed off on the deal when it was presented to Raleigh City Council at its 3 January 2017 meeting. From Council minutes: [PDF]

Lisa Rivers, Salvation Army Advisory Board, told about herself, work she has done and stated she and the Salvation Army Advisory Board are huge advocates of the proposed program. They feel it would be cost efficient, provide positive environmental impacts, etc. Ms. Rivers pointed out she is on the committee which looks for/receives donations and feels the proposed program will actually increase the donations many nonprofits receive. She stated most people who donate do not consider their donations “trash.” She feels the proposed program is a great opportunity for all and feels it will create a lot of awareness related to needs, donations, be a great thing, and
be much more effective and provide a return for all. It is a great opportunity and will provide a great partnership.

It turns out Ms. Rivers spoke a month before similar charities in Austin expressed their concern with the program there. Some even want the city of Austin to cancel its contract with the firm. From the Austin Chronicle:

Charities like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and the Assistance League of Austin (ALA) see the situation differently. Traci Berry, senior vice president of Community Engagement and Education at Goodwill, believes the primary reason people donate is convenience. If that’s the case, relays Jan Gunter, communications director for the Salvation Army, what’s most convenient for Austin residents would be to “put recyclable textiles in green bags and put them at your curb.” In the two months since Simple Recycling arrived (Austin is one of the first big cities the company has contracted with) both Goodwill and the ALA report seeing a decline in donations. According to Berry’s numbers, Goodwill finds itself down 13,000 donations from the last two Januarys; a loss of $546,000. “There’s a lot we can do with half a million dollars, and a lot we can’t do without it,” she said.

In December, before the Simple Recycling campaign began, the ALA was $22,000 more profitable than they had been in Dec. 2015, according to Kathy Hurwitz, president of the nonprofit. This January, however, their profits dropped. While still ahead of the previous year, that margin has decreased to only a $9,000 lead. Hurwitz can’t be sure if Simple Recycling is responsible for the decline, but says “we haven’t seen anything change except [its] arrival.” ALA funds nine programs with the money their thrift house brings in, including School Bell, which clothes 6,000-7,000 local children each year.

“If our thrift house goes down, that’s our money,” Hurwitz explained. “Goodwill, Salvation Army – we can co-exist with them, but Simple Recycling is a convenience we can’t compete with.”

A year and change has passed since the local Salvation Army weighed in on this, to my knowledge. I have reached out to the Salvation Army Advisory Board to see if they still feel the same way.