A State Assemblyman from Queens is behind a new law that goes into effect in 2016. NY1's Angi Gonzalez has more how it aims to keep donation bins on the street from being dirty and deceptive.
Outdoor donation bins have become a common sight in some New York City neighborhoods.
“We turned around one day and we noticed that these clothing bins were just popping up on every other street corner,” explained Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside).
The metal containers have also become an eyesore for some Queens’ residents.
"They tend to be overstuffed with bags or loose clothing and shoes and disgusting things all around them," said Dana Moore, who lives in Flushing.
So, rather than simply addressing the issue at the local level, Braunstein spearheaded an effort to impose regulations on the bins across New York.
"Now any locality which is confronted with the situation like the city was, they don’t have to pass their own legislation,” Braunstein explained of his bill to regulate the bins.
The Governor signed Braunstein's bill into law in mid-December and now the operators of donation bins have less than 6 months to comply with new regulations.
"Not only do we ban bins from public property, there’s maintenance requirements, you have to provide a lock, you have to clean up garbage on the outside of the bin," said Braunstein.
Those who violate the new rules face fines between $50 and $500.
The heaviest fines are imposed on offenders who, repeatedly, do not label the bins to show that they are operated by a non-profit organization or a for-profit business.
"I think that’s a good thing because a lot of people are under the conception, or misconception, that they are donating their clothing and they are not. They are just making money for someone else," said Moore of the new regulations.
Despite the additional requirements for donation bins, some of the larger organizations who operate them say they support the new law.
The Secondary Materials And Recycled Textiles (SMART) Association (SMART) worked with Braunstein on the legislation.
“On behalf of our membership, SMART continues to advocate for legislation like Bill A.5317 across the country that requires stricter regulations of transparency, placement and maintenance for clothing collection bin operators,” said SMART Executive Director Jackie King. “Our members abide by a rigorous Code of Conduct and support any measures that address potential ‘bad actors’ within the recycling/reuse community.”
Representatives from Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and New Jersey and Planet Aid also spoke highly of the law.
“Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey, supports any legislation aiming to curtail the illegal placement of clothing collection bins and the deceitful practices of some bin operators in our area,” said Mauricio Hernandez, Executive Vice President-Business Operations at Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey.
“We are pleased to see this law finally go on the books. It ensures that all operators will behave in a responsible way and not abuse private property owners or the public by making false claims,” added Planet Aid President Ester Neltrup.