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Charities pay high cost of rubbish dumps

The state government is considering installing more CCTV cameras and beefing up security to help charities deal with the growing number of people illegally dumping rubbish.

While illegal dumping has always been a problem, industry sources say it is getting worse as the community fails to adapt to higher landfill levy charges, which have increased from $9 a tonne to $48.40 a tonne within the past three years.

“We see everything from dead animals, soiled mattresses, kitchen waste, broken bikes …,” said Kerryn Caulfield, from the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations. “We’re very grateful for good-quality donations, but you’ve got to educate the public about what is recyclable and what is not.”

Figures from the Salvos Stores suggest that in 2009-10, it cost the charity about $1.1 million to remove unwanted waste. This year, the cost is expected to exceed $2 million.

Salvos Stores sustainability and waste manager Donald Munro said charities had always had a “rubbish problem”, but the recent increase in illegal dumping “was pretty dramatic and took us by surprise”.

“The public is price sensitive, and it’s costing money to take stuff to the tip, so people think it’s far easier to go around the corner and put it on our doorstep,” he said.

Environment Minister Ryan Smith said he was aware of the concerns and was talking to the industry about a range of measures, including greater signage, fencing and CCTV cameras. The government also recently provided charities with $2 million to spend on landfill levy relief and security options.

“By and large there are people out there who are doing the wrong thing, and I’ve heard some horrendous stories about things getting dumped that shouldn’t,” Mr Smith said. “We’re talking [to charities] about a range of different things. A CCTV camera, for instance, would pick up a rego plate, perhaps, and you could go back and possibly prosecute a person in that way.”

The minister’s comments come as he prepares to release new draft policy to overhaul the way waste is managed. Over the past decade, Victoria has increased its annual waste generation from roughly 8 million tonnes in 2000, to 12.1 million tonnes in 2011.

The strategy — which is designed to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill — will be out for consultation until November 23.

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