Sydney local makes incredible $100,000 scouring kerbside council pick-ups

Leonardo Urbano cruises the streets every morning to see what treasures he can find in your discarded items — and he often hits the jackpot.

Left, a discarded Dyson on the side of a Sydney road. Right, Leonardo Urbano digging through dumped items. Inset, a yellow Prada bag he found.
Sydney man Leonardo Urbano claims to have made $100,000 selling items he found in bins or discarded for council pick-up. Source: Instagram/TheTrashLawyer

A Sydney man’s morning bicycle rides and keen eye for abandoned treasures reportedly snagged him an incredible $100,000 in profit last year. Leonardo Urbano’s habit of scouring the inner-city streets for valuable items dumped in piles on the side of roads now appears to have turned into a lucrative career.

The 30-year-old — who spoke to Yahoo News in 2022 after discovering a striking artwork valued at approximately $2900 — hops on his bike or in a car every morning after breakfast to see what street treats he can find buried among council pick-ups. And his uncanny success, with the expat claiming to pull in more than the median Australian salary, has even seen him garner some international attention.

“You could see mountains of stuff — like literally, mountains. And that’s when I find most of the stuff,” Leonardo recently told US publication CNBC. “That’s where the big items will be, like fridges and wardrobes and couches.” Those, he says, are where he makes a real crust.

Leonardo Urbano sitting on a discarded purple couch on a nature strip.
Leonardo Urbano says he has paid his rent and furnished his apartment for free by scouring for street treats. Source: Leonardo Urbano/CNBC

As well as furniture and popular household items, the Surry Hills resident — who reveals his loot on the popular Instagram page The Trash Lawyer — said he has scored $1,200 in cash, gold jewellery, and even a Fendi Bag which he cleaned up and sold for $300.

The avid dumpster diver claims to have paid his rent with the $100,000 he’s earned. As a bonus, he also furnished his home for free.

Leonardo told the publication in the last year he has found more than 50 television sets, 30 fridges, 50 computers/laptops and Dyson vacuums evidently destined for landfill.

Often they are still in working condition, or just need a clean and some minor repairs to be brought back to life, he explained. “When [households] want a new gadget, they buy a new one and they throw away the old just because the battery may not be as good anymore,” he said.

“My friends are shocked at how much good clothing, like perfect clothing, ends up in the trash.”

Left, a working TV found by Leonardo Urbano. Right, Leonardo Urbano holding a wad of US currency.
The 30-year-old said in the last year he has found more than 50 television sets destined for the landfill, which he has since re-homed. Source: Instagram/TheTrashLawyer

After dragging the treasures back to his apartment, the 30-year-old selects some items to keep or donate to those in the community who need them. The rest he sells online.

By giving “away a lot of stuff for free”, Leonardo said he hopes to inspire others “to get into recycling” and pay closer attention to the amount of waste they generate in an increasingly 'throw away' culture.

Aussies are creating more waste than previous years, about 2.95 tonnes per person, according to the 2022 National Waste Report. In 2020-21, Australia generated an estimated 75.8 million tonnes of waste.

Environmental concerns and the cost-of-living crisis has sparked an increase in dumpster diving in recent years, with one 61-year-old Aussie telling Yahoo in March he finds “80 per cent” of his food discarded in bins by major supermarkets and businesses.

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