Charity Bins – Rubbish left outside – is it legal or not to take it?

qwerty123 20 October 2010 20

I am a mother of 3 on a low income and I pass by my local charity bin every Sunday and notice that there are mountains of goods left outside the bins.

Now my understanding is that anything left outside the bins is considered rubbish, cannot be sold on by the charity as it is classed as unhygenic (either because of the state of it, or because it has been rained on and just left strewn on the ground). I have been a bit of a sticky beak before and there is some really good stuff that I could use – ie baby and kids clothes. It seems a real waste that this stuff is dumped when it could be reused by those that need it.

It is my understanding that these charitys spend up to 7 million dollars a year having this stuff dumped. I want to be clear on whether it is illegal to sort through this stuff or not. I know my family could use it, and lots of other families too. I regularly buy stuff from the op shop and have donated loads myself (I take it inside the store tho!) and I have even donated my time to charity shops before when I wasn’t a full time mother of 3 but now I am finding the prices of op shops are going up and up and with the ever increasing costs of living I’m finding it hard to make ends meet even when i virtually buy everything second hand. Whats your take on this? It bugs me every time I drive past on a Sunday, especially when I drive by early Monday morning to find that its all gone – to the dump.

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20 Responses to Charity Bins – Rubbish left outside – is it legal or not to take it?
garner1 garner1 6:32 pm 05 Oct 10

It is sorted and collected by the charities, even the items that are left outside.

As a side note, what has low income mother of 3 got to do with it. Theft is still theft. I am a full time mother of 3, and I work. How about you give that a try, you will have more money, and won’t have the time to pilfer through charity donations.

intaba intaba 11:14 am 05 Oct 10

There was a BBQ on a trolley sitting outside the charity bins at my local shops. It was filthy with a thick layer of grease and a sock. We figured a charity wouldn’t have the time to clean it to sellable standards so my sister decided to add it to her moving-out collection. We put the BBQ in the back of my little car, leaving the trolley behind. In the two minutes it took us to drive home, unload the BBQ and come back for the trolley, it had disappeared.

Genie Genie 11:02 am 05 Oct 10

To the OP, if you really need a good hand out and feel the need to take stuff from bins –
Go shopping at Garage sales. My entire family recently got together and had a massive sale trying to get rid of old stuff we didn’t need anymore. We threw out the junk and tried to sell the rest. We ended up donating approx 10 large garbage bags full of girls and ladies clothes that we struggled to give away. Our offer was to fill a bag for $5. Take whatever you wanted.

Frankly I dont care if you take stuff from outside the bins – go for it, stops the charity staff taking home all the good stuff or them trying to sell you a $5 tshirt for $20.

IMO I think charity bins should be removed from outside shopping centres. Force people to have to go to the op shops to donate. Might cut back on dumping and save them the millions in dumping fees they pay each year. After all that money is better spent elsewhere.
Years and years ago Kippax had the bins INSIDE the centre, stopped after hours dumping. And would it kill shopping centres to allow the charities to maybe set up a dumping ground once a month for free or a local hall. The staff can sort everything there and then. Heck I’d volunteer if I was free. Saves having to sort through stinky soaked bags from the bins.

AngryHenry AngryHenry 10:48 am 05 Oct 10

These bins are an eyesore. It drives me nuts to see crap dumped in and around them.

While they are a good idea in principle, more often than not people use them as a way to avoid paying for a trip to the tip. Good luck to you if you find anything useful around them I reckon.

They need to be emptied more often or people need to stop being lazy and take the goods that don’t fit into them directly to the charity or the tip.

    Tam Tam Tam Tam 5:38 pm 06 Jul 18

    Oh my – how can something like a bin effect your day.

Captain RAAF Captain RAAF 7:54 am 05 Oct 10

Only ‘rubbish’ in the public domain (your bin on the footpath, things you throw down the tip) can be legally rifled through by anyone. The clothing bins are not rubbish bins and even though the items may not be in the bins, they could legally be argued as being placed there with the intent of being donated goods and therefore not rubbish….but as someone above mentioned, who’s going to dob you in? If you are going to rifle through them, just do it on any day except Sunday, as that’s the day I stake out the bins to watch for people like you and dob them in..

Postalgeek Postalgeek 11:22 pm 04 Oct 10

Anyone who has a problem with a mother of three sifting through stuff dumped outside a bin needs a solid fourbytwo to the head. I’m willing to donate it.

As some other people have mentioned, join the Yahoo group freecyclecanberra . It’s a good source of free stuff in Canberra. is also a good bet for cheap stuff, as well as the Canberra Times TightArse Tuesday, also known as the Under $100 Classifieds.

cleo cleo 10:41 pm 04 Oct 10

It is ileagal to take things from outside the bins, but if you go to these shops on a monday for tuesday they are discounted, also there are charitys that you can go to to get cheap food, if you have a card from centrelink, there is one at Charmwood christion centre, to join you pay $2.00 and one out at Belconnen, St Pauls, same type of deal with the $2.00 but it is cheaper still, for a hand help basket full they go by the weight of the basket, which is really very cheap, fruit and vegies are free, also bread, and they have some clothes and things for nothing, they put on lunch, all home cooked for nothing. The people there are very nice, but you need to get there early, eg: 9.30am to get the best pick.

    Tam Tam Tam Tam 2:43 pm 06 Jul 18

    No – it’s not illegal

    Tam Tam Tam Tam 2:50 pm 06 Jul 18

    The Salvation Army Op Shop around the corner from where I live always have some goodies.
    My friend found $300 in a jacket pocket.

enfoldeadgrrl enfoldeadgrrl 8:53 pm 04 Oct 10

I don’t know the legal answer, but I generally feel ok about people taking stuff left near charity bins before the gear gets trashed.

However, to those who pick through the gear looking for stuff to eBay, may a plague of lice infest them.

Judging by what’s left near the charity bins that I see regularly, I’d say many people just use them as a convenient dumping ground and don’t care whether charity can use the stuff or not. They’re just avoiding paying to get rid of the rubbish they can’t fit in their own wheelie bins.

I use freecycle mostly as I prefer my unwanted things go to those who can use them and may not be able to afford them. The things freecyclers don’t want either get dropped off at charity shops or sent to landfill, depending on whether I think charities would sell them.

bd84 bd84 5:16 pm 04 Oct 10

uninformed jackass said :

Uhh, those bins arent emptied at the dump by charities, they’re picked up, cleaned, and re-sold in op shops.

So no, you shouldn’t steal from charities.

The question is about goods dumped illegally outside the charity bin.

The question is a good one, while there might not be anything technically illegal about picking up goods dumped outside the bin, I don’t think most people would think much of you for taking things left for charity.

BimboGeek BimboGeek 5:01 pm 04 Oct 10

Just take it. Better that you freecycle it than pay some charity to run a bunch of shops and hire paid staff to sit in an office and do the administration.

Jethro Jethro 3:07 pm 04 Oct 10

Don’t those bins have signs on them saying that donated items must be placed inside the bins, and that people who put items outside the bins are littering?

Litter/rubbish is up for grabs. Take it.

uninformed jackass uninformed jackass 1:02 pm 04 Oct 10

Uhh, those bins arent emptied at the dump by charities, they’re picked up, cleaned, and re-sold in op shops.

So no, you shouldn’t steal from charities.

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 12:30 pm 04 Oct 10

Go for it. It’s not like the local community watchdogs are going to be parked across the road with a pair of binoculars ready to call in the SWAT teams at the first sign of anyone going near the goods.

And… if you are selecting something useful, and some stickybeak makes a comment, just say you dropped something that rolled into the pile.

Guaranteed from here until next Christmas no-one will pay you a second glance.

I once dropped a load into the charity bin then realised one of the pockets had a personal item still in it. So me and a mate spent a good hour, on a busy Saturday morning at the local shops, retrieving my items one by one until we found the article. Not one comment, and hardly a sideways glance by anyone.

davesact davesact 12:14 pm 04 Oct 10

I am pretty sure it is illegal to remove anything from charity collection points. Not that long ago I watched a “foot in the door” style current affairs program which set up cameras to actually catch and shame people removing items.

I too have noticed the inflated prices asked for second hand donated paraphernalia and agree that stuff donated for charity should ultimately be distributed to those most in need and not allowed to sit in the rain before going to the tip.

Felix the Cat Felix the Cat 11:27 am 04 Oct 10

I’ve often wondered the same myself. There seems to be conflicting signage on some of the charity bins. One sign will say anything placed in front or near the bins is rubbish and there is a big fine for dumping and other signs will say if you take items from near the charity bins it is stealing.

I guess the charity workers pick up all the stuff from inside and outside the bins and take it back to the shop or warehouse and sort through it all and decide what is rubbish and what is good.

Surely all the clothing is washed before it is put up for sale so a bit of rain wouldn’t matter.

capn_pugwash capn_pugwash 10:00 am 04 Oct 10

I would check with the individual shop to see what their policy is & they they might give the items to you or give you a discount anyway…. I’ve seen signs outside charity shops stating that taking donations left outside bins or the door is classed as stealing. Sometimes the clothes were in a garbage bag, which would be waterproof, and then people empty the bag out onto the footpath to sift through it for the good stuff & everything else gets wet/dirty.

vg vg 9:54 am 04 Oct 10

How do you know its all gone to the dump?

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