News Story

New Bill Would Prevent Discriminatory Charitable Bin Bans

Cities would no longer be able to ban most outdoor recycling bins on private property under a bill introduced in the Michigan State Senate. 

The bill comes as a relief to charities that have gotten permission from private property owners to install the bins in parking lots. Some municipalities have been working to ban outdoor charitable bins from groups other than those with brick and mortar recycling operations, like Goodwill.

Municipalities "can regulate, license and monitor collection bins but can't ban them," said Dan Dalton, an attorney whose clients, Planet Aid and St. Vincent de Paul, have been pushing for legislation. 

The proposed law is Senate Bill 870, and is sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton.

Last year, Michigan Capitol Confidential reported on the city of Grand Rapids using an existing ordinance to force organizations to remove their collection bins in the parking lots of private businesses. The city claimed the bins were a trash nuisance, but could not produce documentation under a request through the Freedom of Information Act. The ban came shortly after Goodwill and the Salvation Army expanded their retail operations in the city. City officials denied the move was related. 

Dalton said the bill is modeled after a successful ordinance in Portage, which allows outdoor bins but restricts their use. The growth and profitability of the secondhand goods market has opened the door for abuse, including the theft of goods from bins and the installation of unauthorized bins on private property. 

Dalton said organizations got little response from local law enforcement. Similarly, there was little enforcement of existing Michigan law requiring proper labeling on bins.

The bill will require nonprofits to obtain a permit and describe how goods will be collected and distributed. Organizations must also show a certificate of good standing and provide written consent from property owners. Permits will last one year and can cost no more than $75.

The bill gives municipalities power to prohibit bins that are not properly maintained.

Dalton said the bill has been months in the making and is the consensus of a variety of interests.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.