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Giving back: The ins and outs of donation bins

Posted at 9:49 PM, Nov 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-21 23:14:00-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — They are often green, blue and white, yellow or brown and they are scattered all around the metro to encourage you to donate unused clothing or shoes. 

But 41 Action News uncovered your donations may not be going to charity when you drop them in these bins. 

Resolution Reuse LCC 

41 Action News first looked into these donations bins after a Kansas City man took pictures of a couple unloading bags of donations into their truck. 

At one point, one man was upside down in the bin. 

So 41 Action News called the company listed on the donation bin, Resolution Reuse LLC, to see if it was one of their trucks.

No one answered. We looked the company up online but its website doesn't work. We even drove to the business’s listed address but could not find the office. 

Instead, we found a filing with the Missouri Secretary of State’s office canceled the company’s LLC for “failure to maintain a registered agent.” According to the Secretary of State’s office, that means the company can no longer operate despite having bins scattered across the Kansas City metro. 

“A donor should vet a donation bin in the same way they vet a charity,” said Jennifer McGlothen, manager of charity review and community relations for the Better Business Bureau of Greater Kansas City. 

Donation Bins Pros and Cons 

Before the state dissolved the company, Resolution Reuse LLC was a for-profit bin. That means whenever someone donated clothing or other items, the company was making a profit. 

“The recycling business is a big business and that’s why you have for-profit companies in it,” said McGlothen. “A majority of textiles that are donated are recycled and most of them are going overseas.” 

According to the BBB, only 10 to 20 percent of donated items are sold by charities at their thrift locations to earn revenue for their organizations. The BBB estimates 80 percent of donations from drop off bins are resold to recyclers to either be reused or repurposed, converted into rags for industrial use or into fiber for home insulation. 

“Sometimes the charity is getting a portion of the revenue that is generated from the bin and that is ok,” she said. “Make sure you verify whether there is a charity associated.” 

Tips for Donating

If you want to donate clothing, shoes or other household items, McGlothen said the best way to ensure you know where your donation is going is to visit a storefront where you can talk to an employee or volunteer. 

If you prefer to drop off clothing at a bin, McGlothen said call the organization and ask where donations are going. 

Bins, she said, will either clearly belong to a charitable organization or will be more obscure. The bins that are more obscure and do not specifically list a charity or organization could be a for-profit company or a hybrid. 

In any case, you can read about and check a donation bin on, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles website.