Fri, 14 Sep, 2018Danielle McCarthy

Is it illegal to take the junk people leave on the kerb for council clean-up?

Is it illegal to take the junk people leave on the kerb for council clean-up?

It is not uncommon to eye out the second-hand furniture your neighbours have moved to the kerb as you walk or drive down the street.

You begin to imagine how their lounge will look in your living room if you decide to come back for it later, but are you legally allowed to take it?

Surprisingly, it turns out you can only take kerbside items in certain states in Australia.

In Brisbane, locals are encouraged to salvage other people’s junk, otherwise it will be destined for landfill.

"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," a council spokesman told the ABC.

In Sydney, council pick-up junk is fair game, but the council warns: "Our legal advice is that anyone who picks up items left outside for bulky waste pick up is doing so at their own risk."

For those who wish to recycle someone’s junk in Darwin, the council advises residents speak with the owner of the home first. 

"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,” the council said.

In Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne it is also not an offence to salvage other people’s junk.

However, an Adelaide council spokesperson warned of the items that cannot be interferred with in the process.

"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),” the spokesperson said.

In Canberra, it is illegal to put items on the nature strip even if they are reusable unless you are a senior or concession card holder.

"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,” a council spokesperson from Canberra said.

Hobart does not offer kerbside collection service and instead encourages residents to use the service offered by The Resource Work Cooperative instead.

Have you ever salvaged someone else’s kerbside junk? Let us know in the comments below.