Sad reasons why 'disgusting' dumping is on the rise in Australia

Australians are fed up with the mounds of waste dumped across the country.

Stories of unsightly mounds of waste being dumped across Australia have been increasingly making the rounds, with locals across the country fed up with the eyesore.

In Victoria on Thursday, a man called out "pigs" who illegally left piles of "disgusting" waste at a Melbourne estate they'd just worked on. Days earlier, a concerned Queenslander shared photos of a growing issue of piles of kerbside pick-ups strewn across walkways in the area.

And, in early 2023, a whopping $11.2 million in grants was put towards helping NSW councils fight illegal dumping and littering in their neighbourhoods. This came after NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) findings showed household waste made up more than half of illegal dumping incident reports over 2021-2022.

Left: Rubbish left for a council collection in Queensland, and right scattered rubbish left behind at a building site in Melbourne.
Left: A huge pile of rubbish left for a council collection in Queensland, and right, rubbish left behind at a building site in Melbourne. Source: Facebook / TikTok

So, what are the reasons behind the rise in dumping seen across the nation?

Illegal pile-ons: In June, the Northern Beaches of Sydney were fighting their own dumping battle, with many sharing their unsightly mess was the result of a snowball effect caused by people adding their own rubbish illegally to resident's booked kerbside pick-ups.

Council clean-up policies: While most councils give a minimum of two free pick-ups for big, bulky items each year to every home, apartments get the short end of the stick. Their collections are often forced to be done with the rest of their apartment block or pre-booked at the beginning of the year — leaving little room for flexibility.

Slashed general rubbish removals: Driven by the National Waste Policy Action Plan's target to minimise the soaring levels of household rubbish by 2030, certain councils have reduced general waste collections to make way for organic waste bins (FOGO). Of these councils, some have reported that rather than reducing household general waste, it's instead causing waste to be illegally dumped in parks and public spaces.

A graph shows household waste dominates the types of illegal dumping.
Findings from the NSW Illegal Dumping Prevention Strategy 2022-2027 report. Source: NSW EPA

Cost of living a major influence

NSW EPA lists cost and convenience as two key motivations for illegal dumping in general, and many Aussies have argued the cost of taking items to a tip is far too much. After free pick ups, rubbish disposal fees are anywhere from $50 upwards and varies in each location.

Just last month, a Sydney-based cleaner and waste removal service revealed the growing problem of abandoned waste at properties they've been working at.

"In any given week, we have 10-15 customers in a situation with excess waste from previous tenants," Mitch from Aussie Industries Skips told Yahoo. This number has significantly grown in 2023, "particularly from July onwards, in line with interest rate hikes and the cost of living crisis".

Disasters cause spikes in waste dumping

Significant changes to daily lives is the biggest driver of increased dumping, NSW EPA say in their recent report.

"Significant disasters such as the 2019–20 bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in increased illegal dumping in NSW," they said.

"Our NSW's RIDonline data indicated a 35% increase in reported dumping during lockdown, as waste facilities, opening hours and services were reduced and householders spent more time at home decluttering and doing home improvement projects."

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