Woman's fury over common bin act sparks debate: 'Please stop'

Is taking other people's recycling waste stealing? Some say it is.

The cost-of-living crisis is forcing Aussies to think outside of the box when it comes to finding extra cash, but one particular method is making some locals furious.

A member of an Inner West Facebook group has shared her anger towards people making money by coming onto her property to take cans and bottles from her recycling bin.

"I think it is pretty wrong. Please stop," she shared with the group.

Her post, shared on Monday evening, has since ignited a huge debate between locals with some agreeing with her sentiments and others furiously disagreeing with her "entitlement".

Local from Sydney's Inner West has taken to a Facebook group to complain about people rummaging through her recycling. Source: AAP / Supplied
A local from Sydney's Inner West has taken to a Facebook group to complain about people rummaging through her recycling. Source: AAP / Supplied

Debate over people taking recycling

People commenting on the post have been largely divided, with many pointing out that it's the trespassing that's the issue — not the bin rummaging.

"No one has the right to enter your property for any reason," one person said.

One woman said she separates her cans and bottles to avoid people trespassing and "causing a nuisance".

Others felt the commenter was lacking empathy, given the difficult times.

"Imagine being so deeply in need of cash that you go through strangers' rubbish for 0.10c a bottle. This isn’t an inconvenience, it’s an example of how hard life is for people," commented one.

"This is a very entitled post. I'm sure if someone didn’t desperately need your bottles they wouldn’t be doing this," replied another.

It was the bin etiquette that seemed to rile up the most people, with locals sharing that it's the way they’re going about it that "isn’t endearing themselves to anyone".

"They take from my bins and don’t clean up after themselves. [They] remove cardboard from the bin to get to what they want, but don’t put the cardboard back," one person said.

"By trespassing, waking people, leaving mess and being rude it sets off a lot of anger in the community," another claimed.

How much can people earn from recyclable items?

You can get a 10-cent refund when you return an eligible drink container and as of March this year $900 million has been paid to people recycling containers through the NSW Return and Earn scheme in less than five years.

The average household in NSW has around 4kg worth of recyclables each week. Though not all of this amount would be eligible for return and earn, households on average can make $20 a month from their waste.

Many think taking someone's recycling is stealing

Given the monetary value these containers have, and that so many people save their bottles for charity donations or for their own extra income, some argue that taking bottles from people's property is actually illegal.

"Someone unlocked my gate and came into my porch and stole crates worth that I was saving up for veterans' charities," shared a person in the thread.

"We collect bottles and cans as a little side gig, and so many of the families helping us have said people just come in and take their collection — right off the porch or even from back yard. I would say [it's] theft if it is something the property owner clearly has set up for themselves (not in the rubbish bin)," said another.

Just last month, a TikToker from Mount Druitt, in Sydney's west, revealed her nan's year supply of water bottles she was saving had been "stolen" from inside the front gate.

Do you have a story about something from your local area? Contact reporter Laura Koefoed at laura.koefoed@yahooinc.com

Environmental impacts of returning containers

Return and Earn began rolling out across NSW on December 1, 2017 and at the time, drink container litter made up 44% of the volume of all litter in the state, according to NSW's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Since commencement, 10 billion containers have been returned so far, and in 2020 there was a 52% reduction in the volume of eligible container litter in NSW.

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