One man's bulk rubbish is another man's booty

The commotion surrounding verge rubbish collection


IF you have looked around Perth lately, you will have noticed that the street verges have been covered in rubbish.

This is because the southern suburbs have hosted the bi-annual bulk rubbish collection in March.

At this time of year, residents can dump household items and general junk on their verges. The local councils then assign days for the waste to be picked up and disposed of.

The event is causing a stir because of the number of “foragers” taking rubbish from verges, instead of putting it out for collection.

Clint Davies is a South Fremantle resident, who says he furnished his entire house by foraging from roadside pickup.

“I’m always looking at the verge when collection is on. Just scanning and seeing if there is anything worth picking up. If I see something that looks salvageable like a great couch or a table, I’ll go and get the ute and head round there. More often than not, by the time I get back to the verge it will be gone. You gotta be quick!”

Monash University studies suggest that around 35 per cent of all bulk rubbish placed out for collection is taken back off the kerb.

With a huge market for vintage and collectable goods, many are seeing the verge collection as an opportunity to make money from unwanted waste.

The issue has arisen over whether or not items can legally be taken from verges. Many foragers are confused as they have been told verges are “council property” and that taking verge waste is a crime.

An unsuspecting Victorian resident was arrested last week over the taking of a vacuum cleaner from a pile of bulk rubbish. There have been no charges placed since the arrest and many see this as an indication from authorities that foraging will go unpunished.

Others protest that bulk rubbish collection takes away much needed funds from organisations that traditionally benefited from the recycling of household goods — organisations such as the Salvation Army and St Vinnie’s.

Victoria Park resident Michael McGlade says his only protest is that it makes the streets look messy.

“In the past we would go to the tip and get rid of the rubbish ourselves. Now that the council comes around the streets look like a tip. What must the tourists think driving around Perth at this time of the year? It’s a disgrace.”

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