The Los Angeles Times examines battles by cities in California and elsewhere to more strictly regulate collections bins for recycling used clothes, shoes, and textiles, particularly those placed by a controversial Massachusetts charity. The organization, Planet Aid, gained significant legal leverage with a recent federal court decision striking down a Michigan city's ban on the bins.
Planet Aid operates some 20,000 such collection points nationwide, earning tens of millions of dollars a year from selling donated goods and plowing proceeds into humanitarian and development projects, primarily in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. CharityWatch has raised questions about how Planet Aid calculates its fundraising and program expenses, according to the newspaper, and media reports have linked it to a fugitive wanted in Denmark on embezzlement charges, a connection the charity denies.
Dozens of cities have passed laws in recent years to ban the metal drop boxes, which local officials say have proliferated rapidly on streets, sometimes without property owners' permission, and become magnets for broken furniture, mattresses, and piles of garbage. Stanton, Corona, and Alhambra, Calif., are working with Planet Aid to negotiate new regulations in the wake of the Michigan ruling.