A second-hand clothing collection company in WA has been accused of exploiting cancer victims in Australia and poverty in Africa as part of an "unconscionable" multimillion-dollar business.
The allegations were made in a Supreme Court writ by the WA Commissioner for Consumer Protection against E'Co Australia and its director Mark Brian Keay, who operates hundreds of clothes bins throughout WA.
According to the writ, second-hand clothes donated in WA are exported and "sold to merchants in Mozambique and other African countries" for profit.
Commissioner Anne Driscoll alleges the images and messages on the collection bins are false, misleading and deceptive.
In a media statement yesterday, she said the company "invited donations of unwanted clothing that it suggested go towards alleviating child poverty in Africa and to supporting breast cancer victims in WA".
"Mr Keay misled the public," the statement said.
In one of Mr Keay's computer presentations, he said he started in the recycling industry in 1977 and taught "other charities", including Paraquad and the Salvation Army.
The writ alleges the activities of E'Co have "diverted resources" away from established charities such as the Salvation Army.
"The writ claims that E'Co bins were placed in prominent public areas such as shopping centre carparks and next to bins operated by registered charities," the Consumer Protection statement said.
"Some bins had images of a poor African child with the caption 'sending your old clothes, shoes and Manchester to Africa'. Other bins displayed the logo of either Breast Cancer Care WA or Breast Cancer Foundation of WA."
Before the agreement was terminated in June last year, E'Co paid $10 a month per clothes bin in return for using BCFWA's logo.
But Consumer Protection alleges the signs stayed on the bins despite the arrangement being cancelled.
In November, Mr Keay signed an undertaking stickers would be put on the bins warning consumers his company was a commercial enterprise. E'Co has 300 clothing bins in 207 locations in WA.
Using company records, Consumer Protection estimated that over two years, E'Co had a $5 million turnover. The writ also alleges Mr Keay operated an unregistered business called E'Co Kids._The West Australian _was unable to contact Mr Keay for comment.
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