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June 25, 2014

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Break-ins see panda clothes bins replaced

MORE than 1,500 donation bins used to collect old clothes in communities and schools across the city are to be replaced as many are being repeatedly robbed.

Among those targeted are distinctive “panda bins,” 680 of which are found in the city. In two cases, panda bins themselves were stolen.

“Thefts targeting the panda-shaped bins are out of control,” said a security guard surnamed Yu at Lancun residential complex in the Pudong New Area.

Instead of going to charity, the clothing ends up in second-hand markets or sold to factories.

From next month the donation bins will gradually be replaced by taller — though still panda-shaped — bins made of more resilient materials, said officials.

The clothes will pass down a chute and there will also be an improved lock.

This has been welcomed at Lancun as the neighborhood committee checks the bin every week and often finds the lock has been broken.

“Thieves also use long iron hooks to fish out the clothes. Most are garbage scavengers, but some residents also take clothes,” Yu said.

At the nearby Jinpu residential complex, night thefts are a problem.

“With the improvement of living standards, a growing number of residents are willing to donate clothes to the needy,” said a resident named Wang.

“I just hope effective measures can be taken to ensure that our donations can reach those who need help and won’t be stolen.”

A total of 1,502 clothes donation bins are found in Shanghai, with most in Hongkou, Yangpu, Jing’an districts and Pudong.

Panda-shaped bins were introduced in 2012 as part of a three-year environmental protection program.

Clothes in good condition are donated to schools in poor areas in other parts of the country, while the rest are processed into textiles, industrial and construction raw materials.

They can be turned into jeans, gloves, vegetable protection nets and even sound insulation materials.

Most clothes donated by residents are good quality. Vendors and cleaners break in to the bins to steal them and sell them to the second-hand market, said Yang Yinghong, general manager of Shanghai Yuanyuan Co Ltd, the city’s only authorized company dedicated to the collection, classification and reuse of clothes from residents.

“We have tried to put these bins near the gate of residential complexes, where security guards can keep an eye on them, but some are still emptied by thieves, particularly at night,” Yang added.

Last year, the company collected 888 tons of old clothing, compared with 305 tons in 2012.

In the past, old clothing was incinerated or put in landfill, both polluting the environment.


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