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Call to Prevent Charities Becoming ‘Dumping Ground’ for Unusable Goods

10 January 2017 at 4:09 pm
Wendy Williams
Charity op-shops and the NSW environment minister are urging the public to help prevent turning charities into a “dumping ground” for unusable goods in the wake of the Christmas period.

Wendy Williams | 10 January 2017 at 4:09 pm


Call to Prevent Charities Becoming ‘Dumping Ground’ for Unusable Goods
10 January 2017 at 4:09 pm

Charity op-shops and the NSW environment minister are urging the public to help prevent turning charities into a “dumping ground” for unusable goods in the wake of the Christmas period.

Each year charities in Australia receive almost 800,000 tonnes of goods, of which almost a third cannot be reused or recycled, leaving charities to foot a multi-million dollar bill for disposing the unwanted goods.

On Tuesday, Minister Mark Speakman said the Christmas and New Year period saw a peak in the number of unusable donations and he called on the public to donate responsibly.

“During the holiday season, charities see a spike in unusable donations and even some unscrupulous behaviour of people using street-side clothing bins as dumping grounds for food waste and other rubbish,” Speakman said.

“Donating unwanted goods is a great way to help those less fortunate, but as a rule of thumb if it ain’t fit for a mate, then don’t donate.”

The NSW government is working with the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations (NACRO), the peak organisation representing Australia’s charities and charity op shops, to create awareness about responsible donations.

NACRO chief executive officer Kerryn Caulfield said this time of year was “heartbreaking” for the volunteers and staff who return after the break to be faced with sorting through “piles of dirty, broken household rubbish dumped amongst the donations”.

“The summer holiday season is a hard time of year for many Australian families struggling with poverty, so donations of good quality goods are needed by the charities to raise funds so they can deliver their services,” Caulfield said.

“But giving unusable or broken goods to a charity bin or op shop is not a donation – it is dumping waste and the cost of disposal of this rubbish takes away funds needed for the charities’ community programs.”

Caulfield said Australia’s charity recyclers stand to lose millions of dollars this holiday season disposing of rubbish and unusable donations.

“Our research in 2016, showed that NSW charitable recyclers spent around $7 million per year disposing of this waste: inappropriate and unusable donations, soiled, damaged and dumped items,” Caulfield said.

“That money should be going to help others.

“We hope that by educating people on how to make their donation count we can eliminate this drain on charity resources and the volunteers and staff who have the unpleasant job of dealing with the rubbish.”

NACRO has issued three tips for those wanting to make donations of secondhand goods:

  • Ask yourself, would you give this item to a friend in need (ie it’s clean, undamaged, good quality).
  • Donate direct to the op shop during operating hours or call to arrange pick-up for larger items.
  • Put rubbish and damaged items in your rubbish bin, not a charity donation bin.

Anglicare operations manager for shops and factories Julie McAuley said there were a lot of ways a considered donation could assist the community.

“We are always grateful for the many people who donate generously and thoughtfully. As profits from our shops fund our community programs in Sydney and the Illawarra, their contribution not only helps the environment, but also assists our work,” McAuley said.

“A simple piece of clothing that one person may no longer need can also be loved again by others and put to good use. There are a lot of ways a considered donation can assist the community.”

The Environment Protection Authority’s Reducing Dumping on Charitable Recyclers project, part of the NSW government’s $65 million commitment to addressing illegal dumping, offers charities grants to install surveillance equipment, lighting, fencing and gates to get donors “to do the right thing”.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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