Clothing is now optional when returning your empties.
A new pilot project is offering North Shore residents another choice for getting rid of old clothes.
Encorp Pacific announced Friday a pilot project that will see the company accept textiles, including clothing, shoes and household textiles like sheets and blankets, towels and curtains, starting March 1.
The North Shore Bottle Depot at 235 Donaghy Ave., in North Vancouver is one of 13 Return-It locations in the Greater Vancouver area testing the pilot program until May.
Many residents already drop off bottles, cans, electronics and other recyclables at the company’s Return-It depots.
“Our new textiles program is about convenience,” said Encorp Pacific president and CEO Allen Langdon on Friday.
“We want to give British Columbians more options for giving their textiles a second life, with the ultimate goal of keeping those items out of landfills to support a circular economy.”
Langdon said the company has been considering the project for several months and it is not directly linked to recent decisions in Vancouver and other municipalities to remove, or ban, clothing donation bins.
The aim of the program is to divert clothing and other textiles from landfills, according to Langdon.
“Every year, the average adult throws out about 81 pounds of clothing and other textiles,” he said, adding that in Metro Vancouver alone 40,000 tonnes of textiles go to the landfill annually.
Textiles make up about five per cent of the region’s municipal solid waste.
After the pilot program is over, Langdon said, the company will assess how the system worked and decide if it will continue with the program and if it will be expanded to more of its depots.
Encorp is partnering with Ottawa-based Bank and Vogue, one of the largest traders of used clothing in North America.
Items collected during the pilot project will be distributed to organizations and companies within Western Canada that reuse used clothing.
Anything that is not suitable for sale will be recycled.
In January, the District of West Vancouver announced it was temporarily sealing all clothing donation bins on public property following the death of a 34-year-old Vancouver man who became trapped in one in Ambleside Park.
At the time, Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission was calling for all donation bins in B.C. to be pulled off the streets until they can be made safe.
On Monday, Metro Vancouver launched a new campaign, as part of its ongoing Zero Waste initiative, aimed at educating residents about clothing waste and providing tips about making more sustainable decisions when purchasing, caring for and disposing of clothing.
“We buy an astonishing three times as much clothing as we did back in the 1980s,” stated Jack Froese, chair of Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Committee, in a press release.
“Much of this ‘fast fashion’ is relatively cheap to buy and ends up in the trash, when it could otherwise have been repaired or recycled.”
The campaign also aims to clear up confusion around where to dispose of unwanted items, especially if they are not in pristine condition.
Second-hand clothing retailers and non-profit organizations will accept almost anything from a single shoe to ripped shirts; the only stipulation is that donated clothing is clean, dry and packed in a plastic bag or box.