Regional Victorian charities are being forced to throw out up to 700 tonnes of unusable donations at a cost they cannot afford.
Ballarat residents and store owners have told The Courier huge piles of trash are regularly dumped at a station of recycled clothing bins in Sebastopol and then pilfered and spread out by people hoping to find treasure among the trash.
Rubbish at the Enviro Recycle Bins, which is not a charity, was seen on Monday afternoon – by Tuesday morning it had been cleaned up, but the bin operators did not return The Courier’s calls.
Ballarat City Councillor Belinda Coates said illegal rubbish dumping continued to be a serious issue that marred many of the city’s public areas.
She said there was other offence that could be as easily avoided, given there are so many other legal dumping options.
“It is an offence and there are penalties. It is really concerning that people continue to break the law,” Cr Coates said.
Salvo Stores’ Aife O’Loughlin said out of hours donations remained a regular occurrence and were often considered a hindrance.
Ms O’Loughlin said the huge sum spent on cleaning up illegally dumped rubbish was hindering the number of social programs the salvation army could offer.
“We would like to reduce this volume further to reduce the impact of donations on the environment but to also to increase the amount of funding we are able to put into social programs,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
Ms Coates said more funding for council’s to run grass-roots education sessions explaining the social and environmental impacts of illegal dumping rubbish could help curb the problem.
She said it continued to a blight on the city which could only be lifted through education.
A local op shop volunteer, who wished to remain anonymous, said hours were spent sorting through the junk with a financial cost of up to $8000 per year.
Late last year the Environmental Protection Authority pledged $6.3 million over three years to support the Illegal Dumping Strikeforce program.
This gives EPA the resources and mandate to reduce the risks to the environment from illegal waste management and to create a more level playing field.
The EPA is also using technology to crack-down on rubbish dumping with a new state-wide drone program which used by the EPA to capture video evidence of illegal dumping.