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How do donation drop off sites sort the stuff they get?

How do donation drop off sites sort the stuff they get?

Old 07-10-2019, 06:02 AM
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Location: SW Washington USA
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I have a niece that works at goodwill or salvation army, can't remember which.
Fire retardant fabrics seem to rule the upholstered furniture accepted, and they don't want used mattresses there anymore. There are mattress stores that take and reclaim those for donation now.
Items aren't held in stores until sold, they are rotated out to 1/2 price after a week or so, then out the door.

You see a lot of dumpsters because people bring stuff they couldn't sell at their garage sales.
Dump fees are their biggest expenditure. Please be kind and honest with your donations.

Goodwill rotates all the items, hence the colored tags. After half pricing, From the stores they go to the outlet stores where items are sold by the pound, and from there cloth is sorted to rag sellers and the rest goes to the dump.

What they turn away often depends on the size of the store and the traffic algorithms and whether the staff taking things in are instructed in their task, and brave enough to turn someone down. People get really belligerent about how important and valuable their junk is.

re: not paying full wage, any store can hire handicapped people and pay part wages, the government makes up the rest. Safeway here is really good about it.

And many many places to donate. Don't like one, use a different one.
This is what goodwill accepts and doesn't
the salvation army
reasons they cannot accept some things

Last edited by QuiltnNan; 07-10-2019 at 08:02 AM. Reason: language
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Old 07-10-2019, 06:40 AM
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Here there are so many donations and Goodwill has contracts for recycling and the intake/sorting people are some of the entry level jobs they provide that each site typically has several full time employees doing nothing but dealing with stuff in addition to the clerks inside the store.

Yes, first they take out the trash and dirty stuff. People dump a lot of nasty junk, stuff left out in the rain after a yard sale, things the cat peed on, etc. So there is a crushing machine and a couple large container truck sized dumpsters out back.

There are things they can't take here, like mattresses because of the bedbug problem in Seattle. There are other places to take them. They don't take car seats, even beautiful barely used almost new $350 car seats bought by grandparents. Too many recalls and liability. Same thing with most cribs I think, not sure I haven't looked for one but don't think I see them any more.

They have a separate area for appliance recycle, the actual taking apart of stuff is another entry level job, once the dangerous and/or valuable items are separated out, then the remainders are crushed down and sold for recycle. If something doesn't work, just let them know and don't make them bother to test it or sell it to someone else. But the rest of the world isn't so enamored of our waste any more and it is getting more difficult to sell. Those are typically strapped/shrink wrapped onto pallets and moved to the offsite processing location.

The intake people sort onto moving carts into the various departments, clothing, household, etc. Someone usually tests electronics enough to see if they light up when you plug them in. Then there are a couple slightly more experienced people who prepare stuff for pricing. There is usually someone who functions as a senior level pricer and whether an item is considered "collectible" (black tag here) or a regular item. The main store has a couple super auctions/sales each year of the really good stuff that gets donated, each store has it's own collectible sections for clothing and objects.

The way the tags work here is about 4 weeks in the store and that color of tag is up. Starting Thursday they are 30% off, Sunday 50%, and Monday a set price which has changed... but around $1.39-1.69, that includes electronics, whatever, but may or may not include furniture, often that has it's own tag color.

After tag day here, items are baled up at the local stores and there are a couple "Buy the Pound" stores which is textiles. When I was collecting neckties I used to sort through them, those are the items that didn't sell. I suggest wearing gloves should you go to this level. When their time there is up, they get baled up and sent to rag processing if your area has them. We also have a textile recycle box at the transfer stations (mini neighborhood dumps), that's where your nasty old pillows go.

Recently on our after bowling thrift store runs, hubby and I stopped by a new location. It will be a hybrid store, not quite Buy the Pound, but all used items in the store are one price, there $1.49. So the better stuff that just didn't sell will get sorted out there before rag recycle. There are still yellow tag new items. I found two digitally printed Deer panels the type people use to make the window quilts or practice their machine skills or just use as panels for $1.49 total. I can still buy them online for $16 (plus shipping) each.

I don't know for certain, but glass used to get crushed down for recycling (edit: I would think it would go through the regular glass recycle here -- but people, Goodwill doesn't need mayonaise jars, even clean ones!). I imagine there must be some market for ceramic waste other than landfill, but don't know. It's my understanding that nasty furniture or that that doesn't go gets stripped down (again, entry level jobs) with the stuffing and textiles separated from any metal and wood.

The St Vincents I go to also have at least one full time intake person and a similar tag system. As does Value Village. I prefer to go to St Vincent or Goodwill myself as Value Village is a for-profit organization -- but they all keep stuff out of the landfill. I don't mind that a corporation as large as Goodwill pays reasonable comparable salaries for some of their people. It's a huge business that requires non-volunteers.
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Old 07-10-2019, 06:49 AM
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Location and space make a big difference with the thrifts I use here. My first choice is Savers because they stream everything — they keep the best condition things to sell to locals, they send second rate stuff overseas, they give broken appliances to trade schools for repair projects, and so on. Very green charity. They also do FunDrives for nonprofits—our private school collects goods and Savers pays us by the pound .

The closest Goodwill turned down a cabinet I took yesterday. The guy said because of the wear and tear and because they get so much furniture, they couldn’t take it but try the thrift in the next town over that is bigger and takes in more furniture. They also only want certain genres of books —novels and children’s.

My go-to store is much closer than Savers. It’s run by a big church and has many volunteers. They give clothes to people who can’t afford it. A few friends of mine have volunteered there. The space is too small for furniture so they can’t accept it. In- season Clothing, shoes, better purses, toys, books, housewares, gift wrap and bags, art, crafts, fabric. They pack a lot into the space.
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Old 07-10-2019, 07:14 AM
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I donate to St. Vinnie's. They use the money you pay to buy their items to help others with clothing, food and sometimes work. They also employ people who might be less employable to other companies.

I also found out that if you bring bags of absolute rags, they will take them as they can sell them by the pound for recycling. Our quilt fabric "lint" leftovers could go here, too. Less in the landfill.

Last edited by maviskw; 07-10-2019 at 07:16 AM.
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Old 07-10-2019, 07:58 AM
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I worked at a small, local thrift store that supported Boxers (the dogs) in rescue. Some of the vet bills for Boxers in need are very high. One year our rescue helped almost 700 Boxers. We accepted anything and everything except large appliances and mattresses because of space. Everything is sorted. Some gets taken out to the floor right away. Some gets kicked back for cleaning, if it is worth the trouble. Fabric items that are dirty or unsellable (you'd be shocked), goes to a fabric recycle company but we get pennies per pound. Glass items can be recycled also but there is a charge. Too many times we have seen people clean out their outside storage , pack it in boxes and bring in, dirt and all. We cannot sell dirt or dirty underwear. Please be picky of what you donate, consider, would you buy that? We were very grateful for what is donated but would you buy dirty underwear??????
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Old 07-10-2019, 08:36 AM
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I try not to donate to Goodwill. I heard the top people make huge salaries. St. Vincent’s or the hospice donation center are our choices.
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Old 07-10-2019, 09:19 AM
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I use to work for Salvation Army and was manager in two of the stores in Southern CA. The items that are donated to the store are picked up by the SA truck except large items like furniture. Once a week a SA truck will bring clean, pre priced clothing to the store. All clothing are put through a steam clean and hung on hangers at the distribution center. All other items are not pre priced as each store has different customer bases. A store employee prices them according to how they will sell. This was two very big SA stores in CA so the smaller ones may not be ran the same but I do know every penny made in the stores goes to helping those in need. It's like a big Church having a thrift shop, the goal is to help. And the manger has the right to refuse all store donations if the items are dirty, ragged, stinky, or not working. Thrift stores are not dumping grounds. Some got very upset when I refused furniture that I wouldn't have in my house much less sell to someone else. Many times I would come to work and the front door would be piled with junk someone 'donated'. The store had to pay dumpster fees and we had no way of getting rid of the stuff but put in dumpster. I really liked working for SA. The stores were big and clean, like a department store. I got a little more then min wage back then and the people were so nice to work with.
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Old 07-10-2019, 12:00 PM
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We donate to Habitat for Humanity.
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:17 AM
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Our local Goodwill is over flowing with donations right now. Their chief complaint was many of the items are unusable and or soiled. So now they have to get rid off this stuff , when the person donating it should have trashed it in the first place.

We donate household items to Goodwill, clothing usually goes to the local men and women's shelters.
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:49 AM
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We cannot recycle glass any more. My thought is that it's too expensive now to recycle it.
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