The San Francisco Department of the Environment and the Business Council on Climate Change (BC3) announced the winners of San Francisco’s first Zero Waste Textile Collection Competition today, reporting that more than 3,818 pounds of used clothing, shoes and other textiles were collected over two weeks. But it’s not just used clothing and linens; accessories such as belts, purses and boots can be reused or recycled as well.
The Zero Waste Textile Collection Competition is an effort to help eliminate the 39 million pounds of textiles San Franciscans send to the landfill each year, which could fill about 1,500 Muni buses, and help reduce the astonishing 21 billion pounds of textile waste generated yearly in the United States.
This competition brought together volunteer employee “Green Teams” from some of San Francisco’s leading businesses and nonprofits to educate and encourage colleagues to recycle worn out sneakers and unwanted clothes instead of sending them to the landfill. Recycled items are reused or recycled into items such as toys, insulation and carpeting.
“These five major companies and their employees are helping San Francisco get even closer to zero waste, and that’s why they are market leaders in their industries,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “Not only does this friendly competition help prevent textiles from ending up in the landfill, but it conserves resources, supports job creation and training, and represents the best of the green economy.”
“This competition demonstrated the incredible role that green-minded employees can play in driving sustainability at their companies and in our community,” said Michael Parks, Executive Director of the Business Council on Climate Change. “Last year BC3 began convening volunteer “Green Teams” from several of our member companies to think about how they could work together, across companies, to build a movement for a greener San Francisco. This is our first tangible action and we’re excited for more.”
EPA Region 9 Director Jared Blumenfeld lauded program participants at an event Wednesday night to announce winners of the competition.
"Textiles are one of the top materials that we waste,” Blumenfeld said. “In fact, San Franciscans throw away more than 4,500 pounds of textiles each hour to the landfill. This is an unbelievable amount of preventable waste, and we’re excited to see San Francisco companies coming together to reverse this trend."
The competition was designed as a way to engage large businesses, raise awareness among employees and create a convenient and fun way to keep textiles out of the landfill.
The 2015 Zero Waste Textile Collection Competition winners are:
New Resource Bank and Salvation Army
For most pounds per employee collected (7.25 pounds)
Webcor Builders and Goodwill
For most pounds collected overall (1,434 pounds)
“Our entire mission at New Resource Bank is dedicated to achieving well being for people and the planet. As a result, we have a strong culture of environmental sustainability and giving back to the community,” said Stephanie Meade, Director of Marketing & Sustainability for New Resource Bank. “Our employees were so excited about the challenge and the opportunity to give away clothes to those who need it and to divert more waste from landfill. We already have a waste diversion rate of close to 90 percent internally, but this allowed us all to go deeper in our recycling and have a larger community impact.”
"The team at Webcor Builders worked hard to gather textiles that might otherwise have gone to waste in our landfills," said Maureen Sedonaen, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties. "For 99 years, Goodwill has transformed donated clothing into jobs, and thanks to Webcor we'll be able to help even more local people gain a second chance through the power of work this year."
ABOUT THE COMPETITION
For two weeks, employees dropped off unwanted clothing, shoes and other textiles in marked bins at each participating business. Each company is partnered with a nonprofit textile collector.
- Salesforce and I:CO
- Webcor Builders and Goodwill
- New Resource Bank and Salvation Army
- Wells Fargo and Recycle for Change
- Blue Shield and St. Vincent de Paul
For more information about the Zero Waste Textile Initiative, visitwww.sfenvironment.org/textiles.