St Vincent de Paul Society workers faced a mountain of mess upon returning to the charity’s North Wollongong warehouse on Wednesday.
Some of the region’s charity outlets again became dumping grounds for unwanted items over the Christmas period.
The Mercury’s photographs, taken on Boxing Day, capture the multitude of items dumped at the North Wollongong site.
Rod Douglass, retail manager for Vinnies’ Wollongong Diocese said such incidents were “very discouraging for our volunteers”.
“Our shops, the site itself, are open 50 hours a week, so there’s ample opportunity for people to bring it in during opening hours,” he said.
“And there’s plenty of bins out there for people to donate clothing in after hours.
“But unfortunately some people think that it’s okay to leave stuff outside the bins.
“However, what happens is one of two things.
“People come along, rifle through it and throw it everywhere, or it rains, and no matter what they’ve given us and no matter what the quality is, it’s ruined.”
Mr Douglass estimated that 90 per cent of the dumped items in such an instance would end up in the waste bins due to either being water affected or damaged in other ways.
“Even though some people may have the best of intentions, by leaving it outside the bins... It ends up not being such a good outcome for Vinnies and the community at large,” he said.
“There’s definitely a minority in the community that don’t have the best of intentions.
“I think with waste disposal being so high in a lot of areas, a lot of people assume that our waste is free to take to the tip, and that’s just not the case.”
This is not a first for this site. Over the October long weekend, items including an old mattress complete with bedding, a car seat, unwanted toys and a pair of chairs were left strewn across the Montague Street site’s lawn.
Philip Wahba, area manager for Salvos Stores Illawarra said Wednesday, their first trading day after Christmas, was a “massive clean-up day for us”.
“At one of our sites this morning, our Fairy Meadow store, it took us an hour to actually get to the front door to open it,” he said.
“We unfortunately have a budget now for dumping, where we have to spend money… Not-for-profit money to take things to the tip because people have dumped them outside one of our establishments, stores or buildings overnight.
“We’ve invested in cameras in all of our sites and we’re working alongside the rangers and the councils to try and get number-plates and get people fined.
“We’re not in the policing business, but this is the extent that we’ve had to go to because it’s a huge issue for us.”
He asked that those wishing to donate items do so during business hours.
According to the NSW Environment Protection Authority website, penalties for illegal dumping include a $7500 on-the-spot fine for individuals, if issued by the EPA ($4000 otherwise).