The Freecycle Network

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The Freecycle Network
Abbreviation TFN
Motto Changing the world one gift at a time.
Formation 1 May 2003 (2003-05-01)[1]
Legal status 501(c)3
Purpose Recycling
Region served
121 countries[1]
Founder & Executive Director
Deron Beal[3]
Information Coordinator
Technical Support

The Freecycle Network (often abbreviated TFN or just known as Freecycle) is a non-profit organization registered in the state of Arizona, USA, and separately registered as a UK charity,[4] that organizes a worldwide network of "gifting" groups, aiming to divert reusable goods from landfills. It provides a worldwide online registry, and coordinates the creation of local groups and forums for individuals and non-profits to offer and receive free items for reuse or recycling, promoting gift economics as a motivating cultural outlook.[5] "Changing the world one gift at a time" is The Freecycle Network's official tagline.


The organization originated as a project of RISE, Inc., a nonprofit corporation, to promote waste reduction in Tucson, Arizona. RISE subsequently handed it over to the project leader, Deron Beal.[6] Beal set up the first Freecycle e-mail group for the citizens of Tucson. The concept has since spread to over 85 countries, with thousands of local groups and millions of members.[7]

Each local group currently exists either as a Yahoo! Group or on the TFN's own MyFreecycle software run by volunteer moderators. TFN encourages the formation of new groups, subject to approval by regional New Group Approvers (NGAs). Groups approved by TFN are listed at the official website, can use the name and logo, and are subject to rules enforced by a structure of global and regional GOAs (Group Outreach Assistance).[citation needed] TFN originally planned to move to a custom designed, centralized site in 2004, but the project moved slowly, largely because of a shortage of skilled volunteer labor.[citation needed] In 2008, Freecycle went live with a beta version of a centralized, custom site.[citation needed] As of March 2009, all new groups must be started on's new group system, giving TFN even more control over the individual groups. Moderators of existing Yahoogroups have the choice (at this time) of remaining on Yahoogroups or moving their groups to the site.[8]

As of November 2014 The Freecycle Network began moving some of the Freecycle Yahoo Groups onto


TFN has grown into a global organization of over four thousand local chapters, and passed the 2-million-member mark in February 2006.[9][10] As of February 2014, worldwide the membership stands at 6,880,991 across 5,120 groups.[11]


Corporate support

In February 2005, Deron Beal accepted TFN's first corporate support of $130,000 from Waste Management, Inc. (WMI)[12]

Trademark issues

  • A formal trademark opposition[13] was filed in federal court by FreecycleSunnyvale against The Freecycle Network[14] in January 2006. An injunction was granted against Mr. Oey in May 2006 for allegedly disparaging the TFN trademark.[15] This injunction was stayed in July 2006 and was eventually dissolved by the Ninth Circuit in September 2007.[16]
  • During 2006, in order to defend their trademark TFN also pursued other free recycling groups who either mentioned the term "freecycle" or allegedly had "confusingly similar derivations thereof".[17]
  • Free speech advocates, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 38 law professors filed an Amicus brief[18] to oppose a trademark infringement lawsuit TFN filed against Tim Oey. The basis for the opposition is that the lawsuit violates First Amendment rights. Separately Jimmy Wales, and some law professors, including Lawrence Lessig, filed a second amicus brief[19] also supporting Tim Oey.
  • On November 24, 2010, TFN lost its trademark claim to "Freecycle" and to its logo in United States federal court.[20] In her opinion Judge Callahan stated unequivocally that "Beal did not coin the word “freecycle” and TFN is not the first organization to promote freecycling" and that "even ... viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to TFN ... [they] engaged in naked licensing and consequently abandoned the trademarks."[21]
  • On September 25, 2012, TFN regained a registered mark in the United States, registration number 4215094. federal agency.[22] TFN further has a registered collective membership mark as of the same date, registration number 4215095 federal agency.[23] TFN maintains further registered marks in the EU, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Payments to founder

  • While Freecycle is mainly run by volunteers, the founder and chief Executive Deron Beal is paid, receiving a salary of $US 65,000 plus "other compensation" of $US 14,663 in 2013[24]
  • In addition, this is the method of determining the amount of his compensation: "WE SEE WHAT IS A REASONABLE PAY LEVEL COMPARABLE TO SIMILAR OTHER LOCAL NONPROFITS AND THEN WE SEE HOW CLOSE WE CAN GET TO ACHIEVING THAT AMOUNT, THEN THE BOARD VOTES ON IT; DERON BEAL ABSTAINS." However, the board consists of only three people, one of whom is his wife, Jennifer Columbus.[25]

UK breakaway

Over the course of 2009, there was repeated conflict between the UK's Independent Association of Freecycle Moderators and the US-based founders of the company, regarding the lack of freedom for UK-based Freecycle groups to develop new localized initiatives and features, and their treatment of volunteer group owners and moderators.[26] This culminated in the UK Director Neil Morris and at least 20 local group owners and moderators being dismissed and replaced with US-based counterparts. In response many owners of UK-based Freecycle groups formed a new independent association called Freegle.[27][28][29] Freecycle continued to exist in the UK; in many areas there were ultimately both Freecycle and Freegle groups.[30]

As of February 2015, Freecycle UK claimed 592 groups with 4,345,095 members.[31]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "date" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2
  4. "Freecycle UK" is registered under charity number 1118148 and its registration refers to as its official website address.
  5. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  6. "The Freecycle Network - Board". The Freecycle Network. Retrieved 2015-03-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The Freecycle Network - History & Background Information". The Freecycle Network. Retrieved 2015-03-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. The Freecycle Network moderator Yahoogroup
  9. The Freecycle Network Tops Two Million Member Mark Today!, Press release
  10. Jeffery, Yvonne; Barclay, Liz; Grosvenor, Michael (2008). Green Living For Dummies. For Dummies. p. 329. ISBN 978-0-470-22742-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Angel, Wendy (1 March 2005). "Free and Fabulous". WasteAge. Retrieved 29 December 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. FreecycleSunnyvale (18 January 2006). "Notice of Opposition" (PDF). Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, USPTO: Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, USPTO. ESTTA62464. Retrieved 29 December 2007. |contribution= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. FreecycleSunnyvale v. The Freecycle Network, No. C06-00324CW (N.D. Cal. 2006).
  15. The Freecycle Network, Inc. v. Oey, No. CV 06-173 (CV-06-00173-RCC), 5 (D. Ariz. May 11, 2006).
  26. UK Freecycle moderators break away from US network The Guardian, September 10, 2009
  27. Freegle History
  28. Ian Johnston (19 Sep 2009). "Freecycle in bitter transatlantic split; Freecycle, the giveaway movement that helps internet users swap things they no longer want, has split with hundreds of thousands of UK members who have joined a rival group". The Telegraph.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Jones, Sam (12 October 2009). "Accusations of very tight control split UK recycling network from US parent: 'Overbearing input' from the States stops British groups making their own decisions, say volunteers". The Observer.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. From Freegle and Freecycle websites, posted figures without independent checking or distinction between active and inactive members; for example 23 April 2012, Freegle Camden South (in London NW1), 4951 members; Freegle Kentish Town (in London NW1), 6734 members; Freecycle Camden South, 8663 members; Freecycle Kentish Town, 12805 members. There is no information on people belonging to both organisations, or long-standing but inactive members of the older organisation.
  31. [1]

External links