Howard County Times
Howard County

Laurel City Council effectively kills bill regulating donation bins

Two weeks after delaying action on an ordinance that would regulate the spread of donation bins throughout the city of Laurel, the City Council voted on Monday, July 22, to indefinitely table the ordinance after bin proprietors took issue.

"This basically kills the bill," said Mayor Craig Moe. "We are going back to the drawing board."


The ordinance, if passed, would have regulated the spread of donation bins within the city by requiring all collection agencies that deploy bins to apply for permits within the city's Department of Community Planning and Business Services. It also would require that the agencies be registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits, and would place limitations on the location of the bins and number of bins on each property.

Donation bins, which are usually operated by charitable nonprofits, are used to collect secondhand clothing, shoes and other material goods, which are then resold or repurposed.


At the July 22 meeting, representatives from two for-profit agencies testified against the bill.

Robert Goode owns Fab-Tech Co. in Owings Mills, a for-profit collection agency that recycles used clothing and textile products.

"While I support the goal of addressing any potential bad actors in the recycling community, I'm greatly concerned that this ordinance singles out the for-profit recyclers," Goode said.

Goode was joined by Audrey Traff, who operates the for-profit Mac-Recycling, to oppose the bill. Both Goode and Traff do not have donation bins placed in Laurel, but said they came to oppose the bill to avoid setting a precedent.

"It's based on principle," Traff said.

Moe said the bill was not intended to handicap the playing field for the collection agencies.

"This is not about putting businesses out of business, it's about working with the community and those businesses," he said.

Council President Fred Smalls said the main purpose of the bill, which grew from citizen complaints, was to ensure the donation bins throughout the city were kept up.


"I've taken photos of some where boxes of books and bags of clothes are sitting outside the bins because the bins are full. ... Those are the things important to me," Smalls said. "It's not trying to eliminate them, it's trying to make sure we all co-exist and keep some community standards."