A new initiative from Rutland County Solid Waste District and Solid Waste Alliance Communities promises to keep more material out of Vermont landfills.
Collaborating with Discover Books, RCSWD and SWAC announced Wednesday that nine Discover Books book collection bins were placed throughout the county last week as a measure to help reduce the number of books that end up in landfills.
Discover Books is an Ohio-based company that collects book donations from across the country and resells, redistributes or recycles them in an effort to give books a new life and reduce landfill waste
Pam Clapp, the Administrator for SWAC, said she and RCSWD Outreach Coordinator Brian Sales first heard about the project a few months ago from a colleague in Londonderry who had experience with the program.
“Discover Books did a presentation for our entire group and it sounded like it was something we could really get going in Rutland County. Books are notoriously difficult to recycle, especially hardcover books. Even though the paper is valuable, the spine of the book and the glue is very difficult to get off and it makes it difficult for the recyclers to handle them. So, a lot of books end up in the trash,” Clapp said.
According to a Wednesday news release from RCSWD and SWAC, approximately 2 billion pounds of books in the United States are wasted each year.
The release went on to say that Discover Books has donated more than 10 million books to nonprofit organizations in North America and internationally, and has recycled over 500 million pounds of paper since its inception.
Though RCSWD was already recycling books through a program in Burlington, Sales said the collaboration with Discover Books removes the need to make frequent drives to the city.
“(On Wednesday), Discover Books came and picked up five gaylords worth of used books that we’ve been collecting for the last two to three months. Five gaylords of books is equal to 4,100 pounds, which is tons of books that got diverted from the landfill. It’s pretty amazing,” Sales said.
The bins, which are currently available in Rutland City, Rutland Town, Tinmouth, Chittenden, Fair Haven, Wallingford, Castleton and Hubbardton, accept both soft and hardcover books, as well as DVDs and audiobooks. The bins do not accept VHS tapes.
A map of bin locations in Rutland County can be found on RCSWD’s and SWAC’s Facebook page.
Clapp said the bins will be available year-round, adding that Discover Books handles container drop off and servicing. All container managers have to do, she said, is make the call when the bins are full.
“There’s no charge for any of it. There’s no charge for the containers. There’s no charge for the pickup. There’s no charge for getting rid of the books,” Clapp said.
Rutland Free Library Director Randal Smathers said he decided to give the containers a shot when Sales reached out with a spare bin.
Alongside other programs the library has that resell and redistribute books, including the Friends of the Library monthly book sale, Smathers added that this service could fill in some of the gaps.
“There has always been a bunch of books that just don’t fit anywhere. Either they’re ones that the Friends can’t use — (things like) encyclopedias or old college textbooks — or they’re just not in good enough shape that the Friends can resell them. So, this feels like that last piece of the puzzle where people can donate books even if they’re just in (recyclable) condition,” Smathers said.
Moving forward, both Clapp and Sales said they are excited to see the success of the book collection bins and hope other towns in the county join the program down the line.
“(This) is important to all of us. Landfill spaces are premium in Vermont — and in other places — and the last thing we want to do is fill up the landfill with books that could be utilized for something else,” Clapp said. “We’re always looking for ways to keep things out of the landfill.”