One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
For some time, Chandler officials suspected that saying applied to a significant amount of the city’s solid waste stream. When a 2007 study confirmed it, Chandler sought a way to mine reusable items out of the refuse.
The result is a program that Chandler believes is the first of its kind. The city is collecting reusable items — from clothing and toys to household appliances, furniture and construction materials — to distribute to nonprofit charity organizations.
“No one has ever really done this, so we’re learning as we go along,” Chandler recycling specialist Traci Conaway said, adding with a chuckle, “We couldn’t even steal any ideas from other cities.”
Items can be dropped off at the Chandler Waste Collection Center, 955 E. Queen Creek Road. The facility is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday.
The program was approved by the City Council on Nov. 18, with a “soft opening” last week, Conaway said.
“It’s kind of a dry run before we really start to get the word out (after Christmas),” Conaway said. “We have the containers out for people to drop things off, one container for each of the four categories.”
• Personal items (clothing, shoes and accessories).
• Small household items (toys, home decor accessories and small appliances).
• Large household items (furniture, exercise equipment and large appliances).
• Construction materials, fixtures and power tools.
When the containers are almost full, the city will contact a charity to arrange a pickup.
Catholic Charities, Swift Charities for Children, Valley Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, Habitat for Humanity and Stardust Building Supplies have been given one-year contracts with Chandler, and other organizations could be added.
“We’re excited about the program and what (Chandler) is doing,” said Amanda Smith, Swift Charities for Children vice president. “It’s pretty groundbreaking. Things like this send a powerful message about keeping stuff out of our landfills and collecting things for charity.
“If we can get every city in the Valley to adopt a similar program, we’d be in a lot better shape.”
Chandler estimates that, per year, the program could save the city $38,000 in waste collection and landfill costs and provide 1,000 tons of items to charity.