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County Opposes Bill Allowing Property Owners to Get Rid of Unwanted Donation Bins

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 last week to lobby against a proposed state bill that could allow commercial property owners to remove used clothing donation bins without fear of liability.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who recommended that the county’s legislative advocates oppose SB450, said the bill would allow Goodwill Industries to establish a monopoly on donated clothing and hurt the Salvation Army, veterans’ associations and other charities.

“This measure is entirely advanced by the motivations of special interests,” Antonovich said.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, would allow counties to pass ordinances granting immunity to property owners who remove unauthorized bins. Galgiani and other backers say the legislation is needed to prevent organizations from dropping off unwanted bins and to protect the rights of property owners.

But Antonovich said the bill would eliminate convenient collection points. He cited Environmental Protection Agency statistics indicating that more than 880,000 tons of used clothing end up in California landfills annually.

Other opponents — including a coalition of charities and for-profit recyclers who say they control 80 percent of California collection boxes — contend the bill is one of multiple attempts by Goodwill Industries to limit competition.

Donations of used clothing benefit those in need, but recycling clothes is also big business.

According to a study cited by the trade association SMART (Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles), recyclers of used clothing generate $700 million in sales annually and thrift stores employ nearly 100,000 people.

Supervisors Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslavsky abstained from the vote.

SB450 is set to be heard by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on May 1.