New York State Attorney General recently announced that over 4,700 donation collection bins throughout New York now disclose whether clothing or other items deposited in those bins are used for charitable or for-profit purposes in compliance with a new state law that imposes strict regulations on the placement, maintenance, and transparency of collection bins across the state.

“New Yorkers who drop-off personal items into collection bins deserve to know whether they are making a charitable donation or enriching a for-profit corporation,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We are committed to ensuring that New Yorkers will know how their donations will be used.”

The General Business Law, which took effect in June 2016, was enacted to address the proliferation of collection bins across the state, and the lack of transparency regarding how collected items are used. Investigations also found that charities had failed to take adequate steps to ensure that their names and logos were not being used in a deceptive manner. The Attorney Generals statement can be found at this link.

Northumbria Police  and several UK newspapers have reported an arrested of six people after a number of dawn raids as part of an investigation into Modern Day Slavery in Newcastle – with potential victims believed to have been collecting charity bags. An investigation was launched last year after Northumbria Police received intelligence about a suspected Lithuanian organised crime group understood to be operating in the city.

Enquiries led officers to believe that a factory had been set up in the North Shields and men were being trafficked from Eastern Europe to work across the region. Police believe those carrying out the work would be housed in shared accommodation and their wages and benefits would be controlled by their employers. It is suspected that the men worked as charity bag collectors through a third party and that they would travel across Newcastle to collect donations of clothes.

Eastern European gangs are known to collect donated clothing before legitimate charities or set up fake charities to steal the garments.

HMRC is also running a separate investigation to establish whether any of the proceeds from the illegal business are going to the charities in question. Here is a link to the News item posted on the Northumbria Police website.

SCR recycling hub

SCRgroup is launching a number of new services in 2018, including a home pick-up service; and clothing and electrical “Drop-Off Hubs”.

Residents of Maribyrnong City Council now have access to 18 clothing and electrical drop-off hubs to dispose of unwanted textile and electrical items at six sites across the municipality. See the Maribyrnong City Council media release at this link.

It is worth noting that the City of Maribyrnong does not allow for charity donation bins to be located on council land.

Michigan’s Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against ATRS, a Texas-headquartered company that owns and operates 251 clothing donation bins in the state, for deceptively operating the collection bins.

The bins state that the Michigan Humane Society “receives 100% of the market value of every donation received at this location.” However, by contract, ATRS pays the Michigan Humane Society just $.02 per pound, according to a statement issued by the Attorney General Bill Schuette. 

Mr Schuette says in the claim that, for 2016, donations to the bins generated $835k in revenue for ATRS, an average of $0.34 per pound; ATRS paid the Michigan Humane Society $49k ($0.02 per pound) for these items, which equals just 6% of revenue generated from the bins. “These bins are deceptive and have misled Michigan residents regarding the true beneficiary of the donated clothes,” says Schuette.  The lawsuit seeks restitution, civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation, and other relief.