San Francisco Launches Zero Waste Textile Initiative to Keep Apparel, Footwear, Linens Out of the Landfill

Publish date: 
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Contact's name: 
Tracy Keough, 650-207-4093

Campaign Set to Eliminate City’s 4,500 pounds of Textiles Sent to Landfill Every Hour

Today the City and County of San Francisco launched the Zero Waste Textile Initiative encouraging residents and businesses to recycle unwanted apparel, footwear and other textiles at an event at Westfield San Francisco Centre.  The initiative partners the City with S.F. Goodwill and other nonprofits, retail businesses, and I:Collect— a leading global end-to-end solutions provider that collects textiles for reuse and recycling into items such as toys, insulation and carpeting. The Zero Waste Textile Initiative seeks to eliminate the 39 million pounds of textiles San Franciscans send to the landfill each year and help reduce the astonishing 21 billion pounds of textile waste generated yearly in the United States.

In 2002, San Francisco adopted the goal of Zero Waste by 2020 and through vigorous efforts has already achieved an impressive 80 percent landfill diversion rate. The new program aims to build upon this success by harnessing untapped reuse and recycling markets by expanding textile drop-off locations in San Francisco and accepting worn out items such as old athletic shoes and torn jeans that were previously considered trash.

“Everyone in San Francisco plays a role in making this initiative a success,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “Yet again, San Francisco retailers, large and small, are teaming up with our nonprofit partners and schools to get us even closer to zero waste. Not only does this initiative prevent textiles from ending up in the landfill, but it conserves resources and creates jobs, representing the best of the green economy.”

Textiles are one of the top five materials that San Franciscans send to the landfill. Each year, the number of pounds of textiles that San Franciscans send to the landfill could fill about 1,500 Muni buses. But it’s not just used clothing and linens; accessories such as belts, purses and boots can be reused or recycled as well.  

San Francisco is the first city in the United States to partner with I:CO and nonprofits to prevent textile waste at a local level. Residents should still donate reusable textiles to nonprofits such as S.F. Goodwill or the Salvation Army. With the launch of this new initiative, they can also take their unwanted and worn-out items to conveniently located I:CO collection boxes with the handle SF Save Fashion. I:CO will find a new home for them or reuse or repurpose items into such products as carpet padding, insulation, running track or new fabric.

“Today is an important step in creating a new consciousness around sustainable consumption and in reaching a closed loop solution for all unwanted textiles,” said I:CO CEO Stephan Wiegand. “We are honored to be contributing to this important Zero Waste Textile Initiative and to helping San Francisco remain the ‘greenest city in North America’.”

Today’s event included initiative partners including San Francisco Commission on the Environment President Joshua Arce, I:CO CEO Stephan Wiegand, Levi’s VP of Sustainability Michael Kobori, American Eagle Outfitters VP of External Engagement and Social Responsibility Helga Ying, H&M North America Senior Sustainability Specialist Pierre Borjesson, The North Face Senior Manager of Corporate Sustainability Adam Mott, and Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties CEO Maureen Sedonaen.

In addition to the Zero Waste Textile Initiative announcement, eight eight-foot columns constructed from 4,500 pounds of second hand clothing were unveiled to depict the towering amount of textiles that can be reused or recycled instead of sent to the landfill every hour. Under the direction of New York Artist Derick Melander and sponsored by American Eagle Outfitters, local volunteers spent two days constructing the unique sculpture, which is now located in the Westfield Mall and will move to the American Eagle Outfitters’ store window.

S.F. Goodwill diverts more than 20 million pounds of clothing and household goods from the landfill every year while employing 1,000 local residents and creating job training and job placement opportunities for thousands more in need of work. They and other nonprofits are the innovators of reduce, reuse and repurpose practices. Residents are encouraged to reinvest in the community by donating clothing and textiles in good condition to these organizations.

“For almost 100 years, S.F. Goodwill has turned unwanted textiles into local jobs that offer the chronically unemployed a path out of poverty,” said Sedonaen.  “We welcome the help of these new partners joining us to achieve the goal of keeping textiles out of landfill.”

For more information about the Zero Waste Textile Initiative visit sfenvironment.org/textiles.


Program partners for textiles drop-off include H&M, Puma, The North Face, American Eagle Outfitters, Levi’s, Forever 21, Skunkfunk, BeGood Clothing, Converse, Eileen Fisher, Fleet Feet, Lombardi Sports, Lorna Jane, Niketown, On the Run, Patagonia, Sports Basement, Timbuk2, Uniqlo, City Hall, San Francisco Department of Public Works, St. Vincent De Paul Society, St. Anthony’s Foundation, A Miner Miracle Shop, Alpha Pregnancy Center, At the Crossroads, Talkline Family, Support Center, City Impact Thrift Store, Community Thrift, Mission Thrift, Old Vogue, Out of the Closet, Ria’s Thrift Store, St. Francis Church Mouse Thrift Store, Seconds to Go, Thrift Town, Afterlife Boutique, Blondlogic, Chloe’s ClosetClothes Contact, Cris, Fillmore & 5th, Goodbyes, Handsome Oxford, Held Over, Helper’s Boutique, Jane Consignment, Painted Bird, Peekaboutique, Repeat Performance, Retro Fit Vintage, SF Kids Consignment, Static Vintage, Suis, Generis Consignment, The Designer Consigner, Town School Clothes Consignment, Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads, Fashion Exchange, Wasteland, Rainbow Grocery, Campus California, and USAgain. Textile drop-off bins will also be located at various multi-unit residential buildings throughout the city.