While most city councils in capital cities deem junk left on the kerb as fair game to any who want it, some councils have by-laws in place to try and prevent it.
In an interview with ABC, these city councils explained their position on saving items from kerbside collections.
Brisbane: "Residents are welcome to recycle kerbside collection goods, however, they should ensure that leftover items are stacked tidily and not creating any obstructions to the footpath or roadway."
Sydney: "Our legal advice is that anyone who picks up items left outside for bulky waste pick up is doing so at their own risk."
Darwin: "Technically the rubbish belongs to the person who put it there until it is removed by Council. If there is something in a pile that people would like to reuse, as a courtesy, they should try to contact the person who put it there to ask if it is OK to take."
Perth: "There is no by-law preventing people from collecting goods relinquished by owners as part of a kerbside collection."
Adelaide: "It is not illegal for someone to salvage any hard waste that has been placed on a kerb. [But] a person must not remove, disburse or interfere with any domestic, recyclable, green organics or hard waste contained within a container (including bottles, newspapers, cans, containers or packaging)."
Melbourne: "The City of Melbourne does not have a specific local law on the practice of searching through hard waste. If a hard waste collection is booked and the items are placed out but a third party collects the waste before City of Melbourne contractors, it is not an offence."
Canberra: The ACT Government currently only offers a kerbside collection service for seniors and concession card holders. As such, it is illegal to put items out on the nature strip or in the verge even if they are reusable.
"While there are no specific laws in the ACT that make it illegal for people to take items left on nature strips or on the side of the road, we do discourage the public from taking items as it encourages illegal dumping. In addition, the public should be aware that they may be taking items that do belong to another person and should check with the residence prior to taking any items."
However, if you wish to take things from kerbside collection it is best practice to do these things first:
- Seek permission from the owner first
- Be careful not to break other items or turn a tidy pile into a mess
- If you pick it up but then decide against it, return it to the exact spot you found it