'Stop being an a**hole': Photo shows huge problem with 'charitable donations'

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

A damning image of a charity bin surrounded by piles of dumped belongings in Sydney’s west has prompted concerns about illegal dumping.

Former Labor MP Emma Husar took to Twitter to lambast those responsible for leaving a pile of household goods surrounding a MS Australia donation bin in Penrith on Sunday.

“This is not goodwill or charitable giving,” she began.

“This is being an a**hole, a litter bug and trying to make yourself feel better about it.

“No one needs anything that you’re prepared to ‘donate’ like this.”

Among the items around the bin was a child’s car seat, a clothes rack, a bedside table and two microwaves.

Emma Husar's post prompted concern from Sydneysiders that charity bins were being treated as rubbish tips more than ever. Source: Twitter/ Emma Husar

Ms Husar’s post struck a chord with her followers, with many slamming the behaviour.

“People can be disgusting,” one person wrote.

“Just a convenient place for d***heads to dump their s***. Most of the stuff that gets dumped like that is useless,” another said.

“[People] treat the charities like a rubbish dump.”

Many said such sights had become commonplace in their local councils and the matter needed to be addressed.

Donors taking advantage of charities

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) told Yahoo News Australia it is vital donors adhere to a set of guidelines when giving second-hand items to charity shops.

Most importantly, if a charity bin is full or a shop is closed, donors shouldn’t leave items outside. It is an illegal offence and can be punishable with fines up to $4000.

The EPA stresses that anything damaged or deemed rubbish is for the garbage bin and not the charity bin.

“For a donation to count, it needs to be a good quality item that is not stained, damaged or broken. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t give it to a mate, don’t donate,” EPA Executive Director Waste Operations and Programs Carmen Dwyer said.

Earlier this year a Melbourne resident was fined $322.28 by Darebin Council for leaving a box and a bag of books outside a Salvation Army store in Fairfield.

Despite a small minority angered over the fine, Mayor Susan Rennie said many residents were taking advantage of charity shops and their donation bins as they were too lazy to dispose of their waste appropriately.

She told Yahoo News Australia charity shops and donation bins were “often used as dumping grounds” for people who “cannot be bothered to take their unwanted items to the tip”.

“Other times, items are dumped outside by well-meaning people, however, these items can become contaminated and hazardous while exposed and are no use to charity shops,” Cr Rennie said.

“These charity organisations are then forced to spend millions of dollars in order to lawfully get rid of these dumped items.”

The EPA estimates that only 70 per cent of all items donated to charities nationally can be used.

Heavy fines for illegal dumping

City of Penrith Council told Yahoo News Australia they are looking into the specific incident Ms Husar documented on Twitter and would provide further comment later.

Residents in the City of Penrith are entitled to up to four kerbside collections a year of household waste which won’t fit into a wheelie bin. These can be arranged by contacting council.

Councils across Sydney offer similar collections free of charge, however the yearly allowance differs from council to council.

A Bondi man was fined $2000 for this illegal dump in August. Source: Waverley Council

Leaving household items outside of charity bins is classified as illegal dumping and can result in fines of up to $15,000, according to the NSW Government.

Similar fines apply across the nation.

NSW residents who spot someone illegally dumping can report them via the government’s online tool here.

The NSW government aims to reduce all types of illegal dumping by 30 per cent by 2020.

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