Have you spotted people raiding recycling bins in Wagga? If so, you wouldn’t be alone.
There are growing reports of ‘bin raiders’ rummaging through bins on the kerbside and while it seems an harmless activity, there’s a contentious undertone.
The Daily Advertiser has received a series of complaints from Wagga residents who have felt threatened by people rifling through their bins without consent.
‘Bin raiders’ intimidating residents
Whether removing bottles and cans from the bins is strictly illegal is remains unclear, however, people are already taking issue with Wagga’s growing bin-raider antics.
A Kooringal woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she witnessed a pair of women checking bins along Warrawong Street on Monday.
“We saw them around 8.30pm - two females pulled up in a car and starting going through bins,” she said.
“The women were quite aggressive and said they needed to make money before 10pm.”
The woman said she felt ‘intimidated by them’ and believed the pair were trying to collect cans for the vending machines to raise money “for a fix”.
“Part of me thinks “Well, at least they are showing some initiative and not breaking into homes”, but it is interesting what social issues the recycling program brings up,” she said.
“If someone knocked on my door and asked if they could go through my recycling, then I guess I would feel less threatened.”
Another resident, Simon Haworth, said he spotted a group on bicycles rummaging through bins earlier this week.
“It would have been around 5.30am and there were these people on bicycles just rummaging through the trash,” he said.
Others have taken to Facebook to ask whether people would be willing to donate cans or containers to their families.
So, what’s the official view from Wagga City Council?
Ownership on and off the kerb
According to general manager Peter Thompson, bins automatically become the property of council upon their collection from the kerbside.
In a statement, Mr Thompson said residents who own the waste remained the owners until the time of collection.
“Prior to the removal of the waste by council, the material in the bin remains owned by the resident and they can remove items from the bin if they wish,” he said.
“Prior to the removal of the waste by council, the resident who owns the waste can [also] make decisions about whether anyone else can remove items from the bin.”
Is bin raiding really the worst?
Though some have expressed concern over the ‘bin raiders’, others believe they’re just people in need.
Wagga is by no means the first site of bin raiding in NSW and former Wagga resident Nicole Brown has witnessed similar acts in her Western Sydney area.
“There’s a group of people who go around looking in bins for cans to put through the Return and Earn kiosks but I don’t really mind them,” she said.
“For some, it honestly could be the difference between going hungry or having a loaf of bread.”
She said that she would consider keeping cans and containers in a separate bag for people to collect, if they truly needed it.
“If these people are desperate enough to collect trash and rummage through bins, I’d like to think that I would help them as best I can.”