Florence city leaders propose to regulate donation boxes

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Earlier this week, Florence City Council passed first reading on an ordinance that would regulate the number of unattended bins that collect donations of clothes and other items.

The city thinks some of these bins could be for-profit.

Officials estimate that there are about 53 donation bins alone on Irby Street and more popping up throughout the city.

Under the proposed ordinance, only one box would be allowed per property and it must go on the side or rear of the property.

The boxes would have to display the name of the organization that shares or profits from the items.

News13 attempted to contact several of the numbers located on the bins associated with the donation boxes.

GreenZone, who has donation bins within the city, issued this statement to News13 on Friday afternoon.

We are a family owned For-Profit textile reclamation operator with a warehouse in Columbia, SC.  Our profit margins are very small on the materials collected, but are used to sustain multiple jobs, including our dedicated fleet of maintenance drivers, sales reps, warehouse managers, and other employees in several states.  

Unlike, many shady “non-profit” operators, we provide contracts and pay business owners or property managers to lease a spot on their property.  We only then place bins with their permission and direction in a preapproved location.  We are proud of our history of transparent business practices and regret the proliferation of bad apples that give a negative representation of our industry. 

We have helped several cities and towns draft regulations that allow reputable reclamation operators, such as Green Zone, to continue diverting unwanted materials out of landfills.  In addition to the permitting and business license fees paid to the City, local business owners benefit from additional revenue, and citizens have convenient drop-off locations to prevent the City from paying to dispose of otherwise reusable materials.  We hope to educate everyone on the environmental benefits of textile recycling and wish to become the exclusive vendor for municipalities all across the Eastern Seaboard.  I have attached some of our recent marketing materials that explain more about our industry.  There are even some quick YouTube videos to explain how textile recycling works.

The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART) Association provides guidance to municipalities and further explains why it’s prudent for local governments to work with For-Profit entities. http://www.smartasn.org/localgovt/SMARTCollectionBinPosition.pdf

Non-profits like the Greater Florence Habitat for Humanity say they put their boxes in front of their stores.

In a letter from Executive Director Debbie Edwards to city council, the non-profit supports the proposal.  The letter also notes that items they collect are sold to build affordable houses for families.

Some nearby businesses that we spoke to say they hardly see any pick-ups.  City council will hold second reading on the proposal at their June meeting.


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