Dog walker sparks debate over 'infuriating' bin dispute – but is it legal?

The longstanding debate has people wondering about the legality of disposing dog waste in kerbside residential bins.

A man picks up poo with a dog (left) and a bin on the kerb (right).
A Sydney dog walker sparked debate after declaring he disposes of dog poo in neighbourhood bins. Source: Getty

An Aussie has shared how he disposes of his dog’s excrement while walking in one of the nation's most prestigious suburbs sparking a furious debate about whether the common practice is every acceptable. The dog owner revealed that a “miserable” resident “had a go” at him when he placed the poo — wrapped in a plastic bag — in a residential bin that had been left on the side of the road for rubbish collection.

The Sydney man said he had been walking his dog around Bondi when he used the bin on New South Head Road. He said nothing "infuriates" him more than people "who get aggressive when I do the right thing".

“Would you rather us dog walkers just left the poo on the pavement for you to stand in?” he asked in a post on social media. He then asked: “have any dog owners experienced the same?”

“It has happened to me on at least three occasions,” he said.

Naturally, the post divided fellow Aussies and reopened a long-standing debate that has people questioning — is it ever okay to dispose of waste, including dog droppings, in a neighbour’s bin? And is it even legal?

According to Sydney waste removal company Paul’s Rubbish Removal, it is not illegal to put waste in a council bin placed on the street. However, trespassing is, of course, illegal, therefore you could be fined for disposing of waste in a bin on a neighbour’s property.

One person commented online that residents actually rented their residential bin and it was not theirs, but rather, the council’s property.

“You have to expect that when you put it out for collection people will put their rubbish in,” he said. “Not much you can do, so there is no point to get upset if somebody else puts some rubbish in. You can’t stop other people and legally you can’t even action against them, no fines can be issued.”

Sign asking for owners to clean up after dogs (left) and a dog owner dropping a poo bag in a bin (right).
Is it better to pick up after your dog and place it in a nearby bin, even if it's a residential bin? Source: Getty

“Or you could hold onto it and put it in a public bin,” another person countered, to which a commenter replied that the “council bin is public”.

“Some people don’t want dog poo in their bins,” one group member wrote, adding to the debate. “I personally have dogs but I wouldn’t put it in someone else’s bin – a public bin in a park yes, but not a privately owned one. That’s just my manners and what I feel is right.”

A fellow dog owner also commented saying she was a “responsible poo collector too”. However, she admitted to feeling annoyed when other dog walkers disposed of dog droppings in her bin immediately after collection, but before she had the chance to bring the bin back inside the confines of her property.

“We all use biodegradable bags now and I end up with maggots pouring out of the bin if it has two weeks worth of dog poo hanging around at the bottom,” the woman wrote.

Wheelie bins on the street for collection. Source: Getty
It has been debated as to whether it's legal to use bins placed out on the street for collection. Source: Getty

On that note, NSW government legislation states that littering in general is an offence where the maximum penalty for an individual is $5000.

However, the Act also states that there is an exception to this fine if the person deposited litter in a public place in a receptacle – or bin – “provided by the custodian of the place for the depositing of litter”.

As the street outside a private property is owned by the council, it would be considered a public place and the residential bin, a receptacle provided by the council for the purpose of depositing litter. So, one can safely assume it is not illegal or a fineable offence to throw out rubbish there.

Speaking to Yahoo News, Sydney lawyer Jahan Kalantar confirmed that if a council bin was out on the street it was much more likely to be considered “fair game” but if it was in someone’s yard, throwing rubbish in it would be “inappropriate” and illegal due to trespassing laws.

“But it would be quite petty to prosecute for something like this,” Kalantar added. “And of course, you should make sure to use the red bin (for dog poo or waste), not the green or yellow.”

A garbage truck collects rubbish on a residential street.
Lawyers told Yahoo News it was not illegal to throw rubbish into other people's bins when they were awaiting collection. Source: Getty

Fellow lawyer Gerald Aronstan told Yahoo News he had personally experienced situations where someone trespassed onto his property to put a bag into his residential bin.

“But if the bag is dropped into a bin [out on the street for collection] just before council pickup, in my view, the offensive behaviour is in relation to the council and its garbage workers and just a technical offence in relation to the homeowner,” Aronstan said.

“What I find infuriating is that sometimes when I collect my bins after the council pickup, I find that someone has taken the opportunity to throw their garbage in my bin.”

However, he said it was for the relevant council to decide whether or not the offence warranted a fine.

The council for the Bondi area, Waverley Council, declined to comment when contacted by Yahoo News Australia about the matter.

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