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Huge pile of rubbish dumped near Salvos charity shop sparks outrage: 'Gross'

Stained mattresses and other junk abandoned near a Salvos store, as war on illegal dumping costs charities $18 million a year.

A huge pile of rubbish abandoned outside a Salvos shop in Melbourne has sparked outrage as Aussie charities continue to fight a war on illegal dumping which costs them $18 million a year.

Stained mattresses, grubby cushions, broken furniture, a second-hand carpet, old blankets and smashed crockery were all left strewn across an empty lot next to a Salvation Army charity shop, enraging onlookers.

Ironically, the ugly mess, spotted earlier this week and posted to social media, was dumped in front of a sign stating “Don’t Litter” in capital letters which did little to deter the culprits.

Joe Carbone, executive chair of ethical recycling service the SCR Group, said illegal dumping had always been a “huge issue” in Melbourne and Victoria, particularly at clothing donation bins.

“As Australia’s largest textile collector, we spend considerable resources on collecting illegally dumped rubbish left outside our clothing hub sites across the state,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

A pile of rubbish including a grubby mattresses outside a Salvos next to a sign saying 'don't litter'
Grubby mattresses were among the junk abandoned outside a Salvos, horrifying onlookers. Source: Reddit

“There are many reasons why people illegally dump their rubbish at clothing hubs. At one end of the scale is some people’s belief that they are donating to charity by leaving bulky items at clothing hubs.

“This activity becomes a burden and a cost that down the line just hurts charities and organisations supporting people in need.

“Then there is the cost-of-living crisis and some people wanting to avoid tip fees by illegally dumping their rubbish, and right at the other end of the scale are those that just have a blatant disregard for their local environment and community by creating an unsightly mess in public areas.”

Fighting illegal dumping requires a 'multi-pronged approach'

Carbone said tackling illegally dumped rubbish required a “coordinated approach” between state governments, councils, private collection operators and the community, with each playing a role in education, monitoring and enforcement.

“We would welcome the establishment of a task force focused on addressing illegal dumping, taking a multi-pronged approach to stopping this behaviour in a similar way that many campaigns have successfully minimised other forms of litter,” he added.

According to Charitable Recycling Australia, charity reuse and recycling enterprises wore the financial costs of illegal dumping and unusable donations – to the tune of $18 million a year spent on waste management and disposal costs.

Penalties for illegal dumping vary between states, but in Victoria, offenders can be charged under the Environmental Protection Act and – if found guilty – face a maximum fine of $9,616.

Charitable Recycling Australia CEO Omer Soker said 14 per cent of donations to charity shops in Victoria were made up of unsellable waste that had to be sent to landfill – a figure which had remained at the same level since 2016-2017.

“Given the massive increase in consumption (and therefore donations) since then, this means charity shops have been very effective in reducing waste... charity shops can now use 86 per cent of what’s donated,” he said.

Close up image of a pile of rubbish.
Illegal dumping is a huge issue in Melbourne, particularly near charity clothing bins. Source: Reddit

This was six per cent ahead of federal government targets, Soker added.

While charity shops including the Salvos welcome donations, Aussies are urged to make sure all items are of good quality, clean and undamaged, check whether their local donation hub can take them and if items aren’t suitable, to visit their council website for disposal advice.

Rising tip fees blamed for rise in dumping

On social media, some commenters suggested illegal dumping had increased due to over-the-top tip fees.

“The Salvos in my town don't even have donation bins anymore because people are dumping their rubbish,” one said, while another added, “People are gross. Get rid of your rubbish yourself! Most councils have a free collection yearly.”

A third person pointed out: “Someone must want some awful soiled cushion you bought on sale at Kmart for $2. People, if you wouldn't gift it to a friend, the op shop doesn't want it.”

Soker said charities across Australia were making great strides in re-using or selling the majority of the donations they received.

“Charities are super efficient and leading the drive to a circular economy,” he added.

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