Aussies slam neighbour's 'cruel' bin act amid desperate suburban trend

Charity organisers say there's a 'tsunami of need' and so-called bin raiding is 'not unusual'. But Aussies appear divided on the topic.

A person pictured rummaging through kerbside bins to collect cans and bottles in Sydney.
Bin raiding is 'not unusual'. But Aussies appear divided over it. Source: Facebook

It's no secret the nation's "worsening" cost of living crisis is forcing Australians to take drastic actions just to make ends meet. And one apparent act has sparked debate among neighbours over the etiquette of rifling through other people's bin after they've been put out for kerbside collection, for those hoping to salvage some value.

This month, we've seen food banks and charity organisers from around the country speak out, saying they've "never seen the situation this bad", and describing huge queues for free meals and a handout.

With many low-income Aussies struggling, Sydney locals this week criticised one man for claiming online he deliberately tries to prevent dumpster divers from removing bottles and can from his yellow bin by making them unable to be refunded under NSW's Return and Earn scheme, which mandates they must be "in good condition".

The Northern Beaches local posted an image online of a person supposedly "scavenging through" their bin "looking for cans and bottles".

They argued that people "make a racket with the bottles rolling on the driveway" while searching the bins, and sometimes "leave rubbish on the ground" after they're finished. The resident said in a bid to deter others from searching his bins, they now crush bottles and cans so they can't be reused.

"I’ve found that the cans and plastic bottles are useless if they’re squashed, so I squash them all," the person wrote. "They now lift the lid, see there’s nothing of value and scuttle off like roaches. Am I being cruel or justifiable in keeping people from walking around my property?".

While the true nature of the incident is not known, some locals in the affluent suburb agreed with his stance while others were vehemently critical of his supposed prevention method.

"Totally justified!! And I'm pretty sure that while the bins are on your property the contents still belong to you," one woman replied.

"I hope life is always good for you that you don’t have to resort to rummaging through other people’s garbage in search for bottles and cans," one person chided, while others also appeared appalled by his stance.

"I actually help them instead. I put all the 10c cans/bottles in a separate box next to the bin, and everything else in the council bin. Once they realise what you're doing they'll just empty the box and won't bother going through the bin," one person wrote.

It's not the first time residents in Sydney have complained about so-called 'bin raiders' riffling through their recyclables with similar photos shared online after people were caught in Moorebank, in southwest Sydney, sparking similar debate.

Two people were previously photographed rummaging through rubbish bins in Moorebank, in south west of Sydney. Source: Facebook
Two people were previously photographed rummaging through rubbish bins in Moorebank, in southwest Sydney. Source: Facebook

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Andrew Hill, spokesperson at The Salvation Army, implored people to take a more "compassionate response rather than a judgmental one".

"Our recent research showed that one in four of the people surveyed — 27 per cent — were forced to consume expired foods. So they told us that straight up," Hill told Yahoo.

"One in 20 said that they had to eat out of rubbish bins.

"That's something that we're hearing from them. I think in times of desperation, when people are really hurting financially, people will go to all measures to eat, to find the basic necessities.

"In relation to looking for bottles and bins. We've just got to just show a bit of compassion. If someone finds 10 bottles in a bin, that's $1. It's not unusual to hear and see people doing that."

A generic images of a set of bins is seen, behind an inset of a bag of bottles on top of a yellow bin that one woman said she left out of dumpster divers.
In response to the person's post, one woman revealed how she actually helps people to collect bottles and cans, placing them in a bag on bin night. Source: Getty/Facebook

Hill said when it comes to neighbourhood bin divers, "rubbish is fair game once it's out on the street".

"We're seeing a 40 per cent increase in people coming to our frontline service," he added. "This type of desperation, it's something that absolutely we're seeing, we're seeing people come to us that have never come to us before, people that were once our donors, are now reaching out and asking for help."

There's little evidence on the ground that "the tide is turning" when it comes to the cost of living crisis, Hill said, and people are still forced to choose "between heating their homes and eating".

"People are going to bed early, so they don't have to heat their houses," he said. "They're not going out and they're not socialising. So social isolation increases. So we're not sort of seeing a tide turning just yet."

Research from the Salvos released today highlighted the dire state of the country that charity workers have long been warning about. It revealed that more than two in three respondents in a survey identified their mental health as one of their greatest challenges facing them in the cost of living crisis, with 79 per cent saying it made their life and everyday tasks more difficult — including sourcing food.

A queue for food at a Sydney charity service, amid skyrocketing demand for charity in Australia as the cost of living crises worsens.
Rick Herrera from the SWAG Family Sydney charity said he's never seen demand for his services this extreme. Source: Facebook
Crowds of people lined up for a charity food service in Melbourne's inner city.
Crowds of people lined up for a charity food service in Melbourne's inner city reflects the 'sad new reality' Aussies are facing in the cost of living crisis. Source: X

Two-thirds (67 per cent) acknowledged the negative impact of their financial situation on their mental wellbeing. More than 70 per cent frequently lost sleep over their financial circumstances, with 60 per cent admitting financial hardship stopped them from spending time with family and friends and, 40 per cent stopped having people over to save on bills.

According to the charity, it provides assistance to one person every 17 seconds across Australia, over 1.2 million bed nights to people who need accommodation and more than 1.63 million meals to people who access its homelessness services.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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