Donation Collection Bins (occasionally charitable)

Many parking lots of shopping centers and individual stores have large bins placed on them for donations to various organizations, none of which seem to be actually charitable ones. Often, these are unsightly, and often have piles of trash around them.

There are several "legal" or "society" issues concerning these bins:

  • Most are "for profit" companies which are taking donations away from true non-profits like Goodwill.
  • Many of these bins are being placed by companies that are "not in good standing" in Maryland, meaning that it is illegal for them to do any business in the state.
  • Many of these bins are being placed on private property without the permission of the owner.
  • Many of these parking lots where the bins are placed are operating under reduced parking space requirements as the result of a variance hearing. Thus, anything that further takes away any of the limited parking spaces would be a violation of the Order from that hearing. Technically, it would require a new hearing to modify the previous order.
  • All containers contain signs, and signs are controlled by BCZR §450 (if they can be seen from the road). Thus, without a change in the sign code, or a Special Hearing for each case, they are not allowed to have signage except for those signs explicitly exempted in §450 as having "characters not more than 1 inch in height" (intended for pedestrians).
  • No matter how many signs there are to the contrary, some people still pile junk around the bins, either because they are full or because the objects they want to get rid of do not fit in the opening. In this case pictured to the right, the objects aren't even proper donations at this box. Putting them there is a violation of "no dumping" laws and the signs often state that, and letting them remain there is a violation by the property owner.
  • In some cases, especially at intersections, the bins are placed on the grass adjacent to the paved surface, which often is County property
  • Some are actually placed right in the roadway as the one pictured below in Perry Hills Rd by the entrance to Walmart. (The county has removed these, but a new pair has appeared.)
  • All of these bins have a space underneath - a perfect place for rats to live. A private resident could get a fine for having something like this on their property.

Following is information about some of the companies putting these boxes out. If you know of any not listed here, I would appreciate getting a photo or two that shows the identity of the company putting them out (and who benefits):

Legitimate non-profit organizations:

I have yet to find a donation bin placed in Baltimore County by a legitimate, non-profit, charitable organization. Please contact me if you think you've found one.

For-profit companies:

  • AMVETS, 800-292-2259 (to schedule "front-door" pick up). While AMVETS is an honest 501(c)(3) charity, it is unclear what organization actually sponsors these donation bins. There is no indication that the local, state, or national organizations do it. They concentrate on at-home pickup or donations at one of their many stores in Baltimore County.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • BetterWorldBooks, for-profit founded in 2002 in Indiana, not registered in Maryland.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • Better World Recycling, donation box says "for profit company". Formed in 2009 in Charlotte, NC. Resident agent in Maryland is at 8713 Darcy Rd, District Heights, MD, originally registered (Inc.) on September 24, 2015 and forfeited in 2017. In 2013, this company got in trouble in Columbia County, Georgia for claiming to be a non-profit.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • Childhood Disease Research Foundation (CDRF), 800-583-4204, was a corporation in Canada, incorporated in 2000, dissolved in 2015 and is not registered in MD. Foundation website There are multiple news articles that shed doubt on the legitimacy of this as a charity.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • Clothes and Shoes, These have been found in numerous places around the County, but is unknown what company placed them. Investigation continues. They may all be the Childhood Disease Research Foundation, as one old bin was found with this label.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • CMRK, Inc., 443-304-2586. The phone number was the only identification on the bin, which leads to CMRK, 110 Alco Pl, Halethorpe. CMRK, Inc is a Massachusetts corporation, formed in 1999. Its registration in Maryland in 2013 lists 100-110 Alco Pl, Baltimore as the principal office in MD. In 2015, the resident agent was changed to The Corporation Trust Inc. No local retail outlet can be found. Numerous newspaper articles from other states talk about various investigations of this company.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • Colindres Recycle, LLC is a company in Laurel that is falsely indicating that this bin supports Children International, which does not place such bins anywhere. They specifically did not authorize this one. So far, only one has been found in the County.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • DiscoverBooks.com, 888-402-2665, Toledo, OH. Admits to being a for-profit company on the bins. The URL was registered in 2000 and is now listed in Toledo, OH. In Maryland, the tradename "Discover Books" of 8721 Darcy Rd, Forestville, MD was registered to Thrift Recycling Management, Inc of Lakewood, WA in March 2012. It has now lapsed. Thrift Recycling Management, in turn, was registered in Maryland in 2010. Their address later was 3610 Commerce Dr, Unit #808, Halethorpe.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • Green Reaction, 855-977-1818 - although these were the only identifications found on some boxes, no record of either can be found.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • Heart of Life Recycling is in Laurel, MD. It is a "scrap and waste materials" company formed in 2011. In 2016, the Resident agent was changed to 7810 Clark Rd, Trailer C8, Jessup, MD. The entity was forfeited on 10/11/2016 meaning that it is no longer a legal entity allowed to do any business in Maryland. They use crappy wooden bins.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • JJ Recycling, LLC, 610-879-7061, pinkbindonations.com (which doesn't exist), LLC dissolved in MD in 2016.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • JR Recycling, LLC, formed in April 2015, currently "not in good standing" in MD. No other information can be found.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • MidAtlantic Clothing Recycling, LLC, 800-353-6621. Claims to make a fixed annual payment to D.A.R.E. but small print says "a for profit company" and "donations are not tax deductible" A 2011 newspaper article in Chicago stated that D.A.R.E. gets $250-300 per box per year. Mid-Atlantic was formed in 2005 in Owings Mills. Its purpose was to "import, export and trade goods, primarily used clothing, rags and textiles." It is currently "not in good standing". It is also known as MAC Recycling and operates a used clothing store at 5 Gwynns Mill Ct.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • National Guard Association of Maryland is a true non-profit, but it is doubtful whether these bins actually benefit them or are being placed by them. The website given on the box as where to get a tax receipt does not exist.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • National Recycle Corp, 434-219-1111 was formed in July 2015 with an address in Severn, changed in April 2016 to Arbutus. Associated with World Recycle Corp and World1Recycling (see following). See interesting series of complaints in Howard County. These bins are 2x4 wood frames, covered with particle board, obviously constructed on-site, and will self-destruct on-site.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • PaperRetriever.com, 410-558-1704 (really just a dumpster for recycling paper). These are usually found on church or private school parking lots, so could be honest fundraising activities. Abitibi Consolidated (identified on the bin) was qualified in MD in 2005 and is now "not in good standing" and as "dissolved" in 2012. In 2010, the name (in Delaware) was changed to Abibow Recycling, LLC, Houston, TX. In MD, Abibow Recycling, LLC was registered in 2011 for "recycling of paper and newsprint" and was forfeited in 2015.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • Planet Aid, 6730 Santa Barbara Ct, Elkridge, MD. Although this organization is still a 501(c)(3), it is listed here because investigations have found that it is funneling most of its money to its own employees and contractors and to a Danish man living in Mexico who is a fugitive from Interpol and has classified it as a "religious cult". Charity Watch rates them an "F".
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • Savers is listed here even though we do not usually see their donation bins in shopping center parking lots (except their own). So far, instead of a bunch of bins, they have several "Donation Drop Spots" around the County, most often at old, closed bank buildings with drive-throughs. They are listed here because their business model seems to be similar to some of the above - get unsuspecting people to think they are donating to a charity and sell some of what is donated, but for a profit.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • Shoes 2 Share, 302-292-1234. This is supposedly a non-profit, located in Newark, DE. Since it is not registered in MD, it is being listed here under for-profit companies. In fact in July 2017, the bins are being relabled as "Together" 302-605-6089, a "for-profit company". Bet there was a lawsuit!
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • St Joseph Parish Outreach 888-710-5386. This is not a local organization. It is not registered in MD. It is out of Long Island, Newtown Square, PA, or Boca Raton, FL depending on which information you believe. It is definitely not associated with any local parish named St Joseph.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • St. Jude These are also 2x4 wood frames covered with particle board. It's hard to believe that St Jude's Hospital themselves puts out and empties these bins. There is probably a for-profit "middle-man" who is taking advantage of the good publicity of "St Jude's". They will remain listed here under "for-profit" until proven to be otherwise.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • Texima, LLC, (clothing & shoes) 201-450-3312, "is a for-profit company in the second hand clothing industry". There is no such entity registered in Maryland. Their website says "Our bins are located at the best shopping centers in the U.S." They do not appear to operate a retail store, but their website says "The best clothes ... are resold in thrift shops". The rest go to "less-developed countries".
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • Together see Shoes 2 Share.

  • Turnkey Enterprise, LLC This company has obtained lots of permits for "sheds" located at Volunteer Fire Stations, churchs, and other non-profits. None of these locations are actually allowed by the current Zoning Regulations pertaining to Donation Collection Bins.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • We Recycle 571-441-5880, no identification, but says "we are a commercial recycling company".
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • World Recycle Corp, formed March 2013 by same person as National Recycle (above) and forfeited in October 2015.
    More info on perpetrator ------>

  • world1recycling.com, 434-219-1111, Box claims to be "charitable organization". Website gives this phone number, but an address in Jakarta, Indonesia. Website URL was created April 2015 by Mohammad Matarieh of Global1Recycling, Franklin Park, IL. Global1recycling.com website is the same as world1recycling.com, but gives a phone number of 770-666-6660 with same address in Indonesia. 434-219-111 is in Lynchburg, VA and 770-666-6660 is in Atlanta, GA
    More info on perpetrator ------>

Permits

The County Code requires that a permit be acquired for each bin. There has been some confusion on the particulars, but Zoning has decided on annual permits for $25, and each permit can cover multiple bins at the same site. All permit applications and records are paper-based, with the "official" record being a set of hand-written lists kept in a loose-leaf binder in in the Zoning office, along with others for such things as beauty salons, carnivals, and flower sales. If someone (such as Code Enforcement) wants to determine if a permit has been granted for a particular address, they need to go into Zoning and search the entire list for the entry. This is made extra difficult by the fact that permits are good for 1 year, but many entries on the list do not include a date (issued or expired). I estimate that there are at least 5 times as many bins in the county as this list shows.

To aid us in our efforts, I have reduced the entire list to an EXCEL database, in address order. (While doing this, I found a half dozen Planet Aid bins that were listed twice, i.e., they paid extra for duplicate permits.)

Sample permit book page  |  Permit list (XLS)  |  Permit list (PDF)
Notes about permit list:

  • List is as of Oct 21, 2019
  • This is not the official list.
  • Expired entries are included, since it is not always clear when they expired.
  • This list includes information on the type of business on the property and whether the permit is invalid based on where bins are allowed in accordance with the Code.

Legislation

It is obvious that Baltimore County needs legislation (followed by enforcement) to rein in this mess. As we began this process, there were no regulations pertaining to these boxes. Sample legislation is provided here at General Code.

There needs to be restrictions on who can place boxes (only real non-profits), where they can place them (only on private property with the owner's permission), limits on number at any one place, requirements on upkeep, and provisions for removal (mostly stating that any property owner may remove ones from their property which were placed there without permission). Believe it or not, other jurisdictions have found it necessary to pass legislation to say that a private property owner has the legal right to remove unauthorized bins from their own property. See Arizona below.

Councilman Quirk introduced Bill 43-17, which was a revision of the existing BCZR Section on Collection Trailers, which are rarely seen. It was a good start, but changes were needed to address the following:

  • Allow only real non-profits to place bins. Must be registered "entity" in Maryland and in "good standing".
  • Require that permission from the property owner be shown in order to get a permit.
  • State explicitly that a property owner (private or County) has the right to remove any bin for which permission was not granted, without any warning.
  • Require bin to contain proof of a permit and contact information for cleaning up the area if trash is deposited.
  • Require PAI to maintain a computer-based list of permits and to make it available online to citizens.
On August 7, 2017 the Council passed this legislation without any of the changes that we were pushing for.

In Fall 2019, we were told that the Council is working on a revision. Multiple requests that interested citizens be included in this effort (before completed legislation is introduced) have fallen on deaf ears (ignored).

Our proposed Baltimore County legislation.

Reference - Donation Drop Boxes and Associated Case Law

Arizona law (2016)


Above:   National Recycle             Better World       St. Jude   Heart of Life   and CDRF



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Updated 6 Nov 2019 by MAP