“It’s just as easy as the three-bin system that we have now,” said Melanie Nutter, director of the city Department of the Environment, as she dropped a lone sock into a container labeled, “SF Save Fashion.”
Launched Wednesday, the Zero Waste Textile Initiative is the first effort of its kind in a major U.S. city and will help San Francisco achieve its goal of zero waste by 2020, according to the department.
The landfill diversion rate in San Francisco is currently 80 percent. To help reach 100 percent, the department partnered with textile collector and processor I:Collect and local retailers including Levi Strauss & Co. and The North Face.
Apparel that consumers drop off at more than 100 locations citywide will get hand-sorted by I:Collect. Some will go to Goodwill of San Francisco and materials from others will be reused for fabric, carpets or other projects.
“Every single T-shirt, every single shoe, we will find the next best use for,” said I:Collect CEO Stephan Wiegand at a news conference at the Westfield San Francisco Centre.
Representatives from the public, private groups and nonprofit organizations stood by a sculpture of three towers constructed of secondhand clothing or textiles illustrating the 4,537 pounds of textiles sent to landfills in San Francisco each hour.
The initiative is about two years in the making.
“It took a little bit longer than we expected because there were so many stakeholders,” Nutter said.