Last night, HR (our regional Hessen state-run network) ran an interesting piece on clothing dumpsters.
So, everywhere you go in Hessen (other states as well), there are these dumpsters in various parking lots or beside the road where you can dump your used clothing and the sign on the side chats about these poor African folks which they are helping with clothing donations. Germans are in the habit now of dumping their old clothing into the container and feeling good about where the clothing is going.
So HR's journalist went and analyzed the whole thing.
You see....none of these dumpsters ever get approval by the local government or property owners. Yeah, that was a bit of surprise. When you call the number on the side of the dumpster.....it goes to a cellphone but no one ever answers. Every couple of weeks, someone comes by and empties the can.
Where does the clothing go? The pick-up guy will deliver everything to some warehouse guy who pays X-amount per kilogram for the clothing. Cash.
So this all goes to Africa? No. There is some small part of the profit which does make it to Africa but the majority of this profit is plowed into the dumpster owner and the middle-guy.
So where does the clothing go? Most of the time to Polish or eastern European counties where it's sent into second-hand clothing shops and sold for roughly 60-to-80 percent of the original value. And this second-hand clothing shop guy makes his profit as well.
The cost of a dumpster? Roughly 400 Euro. You see....you don't have to have a license or make any deals.....you just buy dumpsters and put them out. You could have forty dumpsters spread around an entire area with a refugee-worker guy hired up for minimum wage and picking up every week or two. I did the math and figure that with forty dumpsters and just an average haul from each.....you could make at least 6,000 Euro every month, after paying for the hauling expense/driver. Here's the big factor.....no real receipts.....so it's all tax-free. 72,000 Euro a year.....tax free, and the only real cost is the 400 Euro to buy each dumpster and the truck/driver? Yeah.
Illegal? Well...if you find the dumpster illegally in your grocery parking lot.....you can call the cops but generally this is on the bottom of their list. You could "steal" the dumpster and then what? Where would you dump it? Cops readily admitted that there needs to be some better system but the political folks don't seem to be that interested. Small-time crime, but in some ways....it's not really illegal except for the placement of the dumpsters.
How many exist in Hessen? People only take guesses. Around the city of Wiesbaden, I'd take a humble guess that at least 250 dumpster exist within the city limits. You can figure at least six to eight guys or groups are making a tax-free situation with these stupid clothing dumpster. You'd think the tax office would be all over this but even they seem to lack any interest.
I must admit, it's a brilliant way to clear money under the table.