The NSW head of the peak body for the charitable recycling industry has warned Wollongong City Council the removal of clothing bins from council land will not solve dumping problems.
National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations (NACRO) NSW chair Joe Magro said the forced removal of clothing bins from Wollongong City Council land – bar five designated sites – would likely drive people to dump elsewhere, rather than fix the problem altogether.
Mr Magro, who has worked in the charity sector for more than 20 years, has called for an open dialogue with the council to work through the issue, rather than punishing charities for the actions of a few.
‘‘I feel, in a sense, that charities are being punished because of a minority out there in the community who feel the need to dump,’’ he said. ‘‘And whether the bins are there or not there, those people are going to dump anyway.
‘‘You don’t have to drive far in the region to see all manners of things dumped on the side of the road.’’
Council, at a meeting in December 2007, resolved to allocate five sites for the placement of bins on council land at The Circle, Woonona; Robert Ziems Park, Corrimal; Figtree Park, Figtree; Guest Park, Balgownie; Acacia Street, Windang.
A council spokesperson has since confirmed all other charity clothing bins on council lands will be removed, citing cleanliness and safety issues as reasons for the policy change.
It is a move that could spell disaster for charities, which rely on the bins to stock their op shops and raise vital funds for charitable services.
Mr Magro, who travels the country through his work with NACRO and Lifeline, said dumping at charity bins was often more prevalent in city areas where councils charged to take goods to the tip.
He said it was also a problem with privately owned commercial clothing bins which, unlike NACRO members, are not governed by strict maintenance requirements.
Mr Magro acknowledged the council’s position and the ongoing dumping issues, but said it would be doing itself a disservice if it continued to slash bin numbers in the community.
‘‘Through those bins we prevent thousands of tonnes of bric-a-brac, clothing – you name it – from going to the tip face each year,’’ he said.
‘‘I see what we’re doing as not only a service to the community, but we’re helping the council out by reducing landfill dramatically.
‘‘We’re not here to make life difficult for councils – we want to help them – so, really, I want to discuss the issue with them and see what we can come up with.’’