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New law to stop fake charities from putting out clothing bins

A bill, introduced by Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), regulating used clothing bins has been signed into law.
By Tom Momberg

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein’s (D-Bayside) legislation to reduce the excessive number of textile recycling bins. The bill has been awaiting Cuomo’s signature since it was approved by both chambers in July.

The legislation specifically targets clothing receptacles provided by fake charities and does so by prohibiting the placement of collection bins on public property throughout the state. It also imposes maintenance requirements on receptacles that are placed on private property.

The clothing bins became noticeable in 2014, when they started popping up all over northeast Queens under false charity names like “Our Neighborhood Recycling.”

When the TimesLedger made calls to the phone number on the boxes last year, people who answered said their organization ships the clothes overseas, but hung up when asked for more detail.

Several residents and business owners issued complaints, because they claimed the receptacles were placed on their properties overnight and without their consent.

That’s why Braunstein also included measures in the bill to strengthen disclosure requirements for the operation of the bins.

Operators of the receptacles will also be legally required to disclose whether nonprofits and for-profit organizations are working in conjunction with one another in a practice known as “rent-a-charity.”

“Some of these bins are eyesores because they are not maintained by their operators and serve as trash receptacles and graffiti magnets,” Braunstein said in a statement. “Collection bins have long been considered a positive way to donate used clothing to those in need, but they are sometimes operated by irresponsible companies masquerading as charities. This law will help to weed out the bad actors so that people can be certain that they are donating to charities or to legitimate textile recycling businesses, such as those affiliated with SMART, a coalition of companies whose goal is to remove the textiles from landfills.”

SMART, or the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, has been in full support of the legislation since it was introduced.

“These illegal boxes do not serve those in need,” NYPD 109th Precinct Community Council President Chrissy Voskerichian previously told the TimesLedger. “They do nothing more than block sidewalks, attracting litter, graffiti and dumping, diminishing the quality of life in our community.”

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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