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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

This is Not Charity

A local Canberran set up a blog called This Is Not Charity, in which she posts photos of illegal dumping in front of charity bins. Her intention was to engage the community and media, and prompt action to address this mess. Since nothing ever happens in Canberra (except the Australian Prime Minister being attacked by rioters, her stolen shoe later being auctioned on eBay), the issue is now getting plenty of newspaper coverage and politician involvement.

Don't get me wrong, illegal dumping is disgusting. It costs the charities money to remove unsaleable crap, so you are not only creating an eyesore, you are essentially stealing from charity. Even more disgusting are reports that people dump household rubbish, bags of prawn shells, soiled nappies or even dead animals inside the bins - all for volunteers to sort through.

The ACT Government met with heads of charities to discuss options for stopping illegal dumping. According to the radio, the Government wants to remove all charity bins. Unless they come up with a viable alternative, this is a dumb idea.

If people can't dump things outside bins, they'll dump them in front of the doors of charity shops. Are they going to remove all charity shops too?

Case in point:
Despite scrapping its Canberra donation bins eight years ago, St Vincent de Paul spent $111,000 cleaning up unwanted goods from its op-shops in the Canberra and Goulburn region last year, with $53,000 spent on tip fees in Canberra alone.

I work during office hours, and my weekends can be busy. If I didn't like op shopping, I probably would never go near one. This would mean I'd have to go well out of my way to make a donation if drop offs were allowed only during opening hours. Too much hassle = less donations.

Vinnies wants all bins scrapped. They chose to remove theirs. Other charities keep their bins there for a reason - if they wanted to remove them they would.

It would be more effective to install surveillance cameras and give police powers to trace number plates and levy fines on offenders. These fines could even go towards covering the charities' costs of removing unwanted items (although working in Government, I know that appropriating funds in this manner would be a bureaucratic nightmare, and would not happen with a mere click of the fingers).

More food for thought. Why is it that the ACT is the only state/territory that doesn't offer residents any sort of free large waste collection or drop off service? In WA, you can put bulky items on your verge once a year and have them collected. Some councils in WA offer a free skip bin service by request. Other states (to my knowledge) at least waive tip fees up to a certain amount per year for each rate paying resident. Last time I checked, ACT rates weren't cheaper than anywhere else. If people didn't have to drive to the tip, and pay $60 to dump a single item, you'd have a lot less old TVs and mattresses dumped outside bins. I'm not saying it would solve all problems - illegal dumping is an issue everywhere.

Any ideas? I don't think that a bulky waste collection service would actually solve the problem - I'm all for spending money on installing surveillance and prosecuting offenders!


  1. Great post, it really is a nightmare and I'm glad to see more awareness lately of the situation. Sadly I think a well-rounded solution might be a way off, there certainly doesn't seem to be an obvious one! But it really is too easy for people to dump their crap at the moment, I've even noticed more along the side of the roads too. Agree that we should have a kerbside collection every so often, that would be awesome!

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