A year after the ACT Government withdrew charity bins from public places, Canberrans will soon be able to drop off clothing and textiles at Mugga Lane and Mitchell Resource Management Centres. A six-month trial of collection points will begin in May.
“Canberrans love recycling, and we want to provide opportunities for people to reuse and recycle textile items like clothing and shoes,” Chris Steel, Minister for Transport and City Services, said.
Illegal dumping significantly increased in the height of the pandemic; in response, the government removed charity bins from shopping centres and car parks last April. Irresponsible people were leaving furniture and white goods at charity bins, contaminating much-needed clothing and textile donations. Mr Steel said this placed an unfair burden on charities.
The two new locations will deter dumping – but not deter Canberrans who wants to do the right thing, Mr Steel hopes.
The public will be able to drop off clothing, textiles and shoes for free. These can be given to people in need, or sold through charity shopfronts. Unusable items can be turned into rags for hospitality and cleaning businesses.
The sites will be locked at night and monitored by CCTV cameras. Under stronger laws, people caught illegally dumping waste at a recycling drop-off centre can be fined up to $1,500 for individuals, or $7,500 for businesses, Mr Steel said.
“Canberrans need to think about what items they’re dropping off,” he said. “These are not garbage bins; they’re places where you can put good quality items that can be reused by people in need and be recycled.
“If you do the wrong thing and illegally dump … you can be pretty sure you’ll get a fine in the mail.”
Moreover, in July, the government will introduce a bulky waste collection scheme – a free, legal way to dispose of manchester (household linen and cotton goods), furniture and white goods.
“There should be no deterrent for people to come and use these sites appropriately, and there’s no reason for people to illegally dump items around clothing bins,” Mr Steel said.
Reinstating the charity bins will create jobs for intellectually disabled people. Koomarri employs 25 people to sort donated clothes and textiles; cut and bag them; and sell them to local businesses and charities, CEO Nadine Stephen said. Stood down last April, they will now be able to return to their jobs.
At this stage, the ACT Government does not plan to reintroduce charity collection bins. “It simply hasn’t worked, and there’s too much illegal dumping at those sites,” Mr Steel said. But if successful, he said these two sites could be the foundation for a permanent model, with more charities participating across Canberra.
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