Hot on the tails of the city of San Francisco launching an aggressive citywide textile recycling initiative in partnership with I:Collect USA, Goodwill Industries is also jumping into the clothing-based waste diversion game by unleashing a small army of smart textile recycling bins in large apartment complexes across the City by the Bay. Between this effort and the city’s Zero Waste Textile Initiative, San Francisco residents pretty much have no excuse for tossing soiled tablecloths, hole-ridden socks, and cast-off blouses in the trash.

SFGoodwill’s innovative goBINS, which will initially appear in select residential high-rises of 100 units or more later this year, are geared to make textile recycling less of a drag for potential recyclers who would rather not pack all their discarded clothes up and haul them to a physical Goodwill location on a Saturday afternoon. Instead, similar to New York City’s sucessful textile recycling initiative, they’ll be able to simple responsibly dispose of unwanted garments without setting foot outside of their own buildings. SFGoodwill is working with the city’s rental property management trade association to find the high-tech (more in that in a bit) smart bins proper homes.

Explains SFGoodwill CEO Maureen Sedonaen in a release issued by the organization:

We’ll target putting a Goodwill goBIN in every big apartment and condo building in the city within 5 years to make donating textiles an everyday convenience. Every shirt, shoe and purse slipped into a goBIN will help us create job opportunities for the chronically unemployed.
Adds Linda Corso, a property manager who is enthusiastically anticipating placement of a bin in her own building:
I am looking forward to getting this new bin for our residents and continuing to support the mission of Goodwill. I used to keep clothes left behind by departing residents in a storeroom until I had time to take them to Goodwill myself. Having the Goodwill bin on site will make life easier both for my residents and for me. It is win for all.
So what makes these bins so exceptionally smart you ask?

Developed by SFGoodwill in partnership with German-borne, San Francisco-based global product design and strategy firm frog (Yves Behar is an alum), each bin is equipped with a sensor that alerts SFGoodwill before it reaches full capacity. After all, a messy, unsightly bin that’s overflowing with other people’s bath towels and brasseries may deter some folks from doing the good deed. Thanks to the sensors, SFGoodwill drivers will be alerted and dispatched for pick-up well before a bin reaches the overflow stages. According to SFGoodwill, the fleet of goBINS will also be equipped with an “internal rolling cart system” so that they can serviced by Goodwill drivers in a quick five minutes or less.

Each goBIN, which the Goodwill plans to locally manufacture using recycled materials, will also sport a QR code for building residents to scan. From there, donors can access an online donation tax form and “learn more about how their donation is helping put local people in need back to work through SFGoodwill.” Easy-peasy, eh?

Explains Peter Michaelian, creative director of frog: “We were inspired by the idea of creating a bin that added to the character of a building while providing great concierge service. The form factor is friendly, welcoming the donor with a smile, while leveraging technology that enables a seamless and simplified experience for donors and facility managers to interact with Goodwill.”

Depending on how things go with the pilot initiative in San Francisco (SFGoodwill also serves Marin and San Mateo counties in addition to the city/county of San Francisco), goBins may start appearing in apartment buildings in other cities across the country where Goodwill maintains a chapter.

Any thoughts? Would the convenience of having a brainy, easy-on-the-eyes recycling bin located in your building make you more likely to recycle old clothing and textiles? Or do you actually enjoy the sometimes time-consuming process of making an in-person donation?

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

SFGoodwill brings convenience, smarts to household textile recycling
SFGoodwill launches a pilot initiative that will find sensor-equipped textile recycling bins placed in select residential high-rises across San Francisco.