Everything you need to know about illegal dumping in Sydney
Illegal dumping is a common and major problem that affect humans, wildlife and the natural environment. It creates concerning problems such as reducing the quality of life, the appearance of the city and the danger that arises from hazardous waste.
The government of New South Wales has shown strong indicators to reduce the amount of illegal dumping through its continued funding of $65 million as part of the Waste Less Recycle More initiative. This campaign will serve to support innovative methods to combat illegal rubbish dumping. It consists of three segments:
- The Aboriginal Land Clean Up and Prevention Program
- The Combating Illegal Dumping: Clean Up and Prevention Program
- Reducing Illegal Dumping on NSW Charitable Recyclers Program
There is no doubt that the government cannot do this alone. It is up to us to acknowledge and help educate others about the consequences and danger that illegal dumping can have on individuals and our beloved environment. It all begins with you and together we can make the world a better place.
What is illegal dumping?
Sure, illegal dumping is bad, but what is illegal dumping? According to the NSW legislation under the Sections 143 and 144 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (POEO) Act 1997 No 156, it is summarised as:
- Deal with the unlawful transporting, acceptance and depositing of waste
- State that the owner, transporter and person receiving the waste or allowing their waste to be received are committing a crime
That is fine according to the ‘laws’, but to us as the average joe, it makes absolutely no sense and is very vague and ambiguous. The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has a more detailed definition of ‘illegal dumping’ through their realistic examples:
- Placing unwanted household items on the footpath when there is no council collection
- Dumping rubbish or green waste in the bush or on the side of a road
- Businesses or contractors who are paid to correctly dispose of commercial waste but instead dump it on land without proper approvals
- Dumping asbestos waste
Not only is illegal dumping bad for the environment, but it also is unappealing at a glance, acts as an invitation for individuals to join and thus attracts more rubbish. It becomes a danger and obstruction on footpaths and alleyways. It doesn’t matter if the land is private or public, it is illegal to dump.
There are some reasons why households and businesses illegally dump rubbish. They include avoiding high fees that are associated with proper dumping at a collection centre and the lack of available services that offer collection and disposal of rubbish to residents and households.
What are the most common illegally dumped items?
Across NSW, all types of rubbish are illegally dumped. They vary in sizes and material from small bags of rubbish to large furniture. The biggest portion of illegal dumping is made up of household trash by homeowners. Household items such as:
- White goods disposal (fridge, dishwasher, washing machine, air conditioner)
- Furniture disposal (lounge, couch, sofa set, mattress, bed frame)
Other items that add to the stack of dump includes construction waste, garden waste, tyres and vehicle parts. Illegal dumping usually occurs in vacant, poorly lit areas with low visibility, rural roads where there are no one around and alleyways. In the urban areas:
- Bushland, laneways, parks, drains, sporting grounds, private property, walkways, vacant lands
In the regional areas:
- Camping grounds, National parks, access roads to remote areas
What are the penalties for illegal dumping?
Illegal dumping is a crime and it can lead to serious consequences such as imprisonment. There are two different types of penalties; individual and corporation. The OPOE Act 1997 has also divided it up into three tiers; with tier one being the most severe and tier three being the least. This is shown below:
Tier 3 – Penalty notices
- $750 on-the-spot fine for individuals with a maximum of $1500 on-the-spot fine
- $1500 on-the-spot fine for corporations with a maximum of $5000 on-the-spot fine
Tier 2 – Use of land by an owner or occupier as a waste facility without lawful authority; unlawful transporting or deposition of waste
- $250,000 maximum penalty for an individual, and in the case of a continuing offence, a $60,000 penalty for each day the offence continues
- $1,000,000 maximum penalty for a corporation, and in the case of a continuing offence, a $120,000 penalty for each day the offence continues
Tier 1 – Disposal of waste in a way which harms or is likely to harm the environment
- A maximum penalty of $1,000,000 and/or seven years imprisonment for the individual if the disposal was done wilfully. $500,000 and/or four years imprisonment if the disposal was done negligently
- A maximum penalty of $5,000,000 for a corporation if the disposal was done wilfully. $2,000,000 if the disposal was done negligently
There are also laws that allow the seizure of vehicles that are used in repeated illegal dumping. And if the offender is found guilty, they can be imprisoned for up to 2 years. If a person provides false and misleading detail dealing with waste can be issued with a fine of up to $500,000 for a corporation or $240,000 and 18 months prison sentence for an individual.
What are the impacts of illegal dumping?
Illegal dumping affects all aspects of life. Take a look at our article on illegal dumping and the effects on the environment that it has. However, it has a number of negative ramifications on three main aspects; social, financial and environmental.
The impacts that illegal dumping have on society:
- Quality of health of the people of NSW
- Unappealing and less desirable for visitors and tourists
- Loss of invaluable recyclable resources that have been dumped away
The impacts that illegal dumping have on the environment:
- Contamination of local waterways
- Destruction of plant and wildlife habitat
- Marine pollution
- Contributes to global warming
It has been estimated that more than $500,000 in annual financial costs was spent on the cleaning and disposal of illegally dumped rubbish in the Sydney region. There is also a loss in income/revenue for rubbish removal businesses, landfill operators, recycling centres and recovery facilities as a result of illegally dumping. Companies are also affected financially by competitors and individuals that do not have to pay landfill fees in order to dispose of their waste.
What can you do about illegal dumping?
So, what can you do about illegal dumping? You can choose to report it. Although there is no single point of contact to report the offence, there are government bodies that will look after the situation depending on the size of the dumping.
Local councils are more likely to handle small size illegal dumping such as household, commercial and developing sites. For bigger size dumping such as tonnes of waste, dump relating to organised crime or rubbish that poses as a serious threat to the public or environment, The Office of Environment and Heritage will investigate these offences. It is also fine to report the incident to the local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Although it is not recommended, you may choose to take action and clean up the mess. But before you do, make sure that it is safe to do so. Extreme care must be taken. Safety precautions should be taken high and personal protective wear is a must. Hazardous waste such as asbestos or lead paint may be hiding among the dump.
How to avoid illegal dumping?
Illegal dumping is unattractive, unethical and creates all sorts of problem. You should never do it, even if it is on private land. The consequences of illegally dumping, far outweigh the small fees that are associated with getting rid of it. You will also be doing everyone including yourself a huge favour by doing the right thing.
Paul’s Rubbish Removal is the perfect solution to any illegal dumping. We have been in the business for over 10 years to handle any situation with extreme care and safety. No matter what it is, we can take care of it for proper disposal.
Whether you need to get rid of household junk or would like a pile of dump cleaned up, please feel free to call us at any hour of the day for a free obligation free quote on 0407 125 125.
We recycle and reuse junk so that we can preserve our environment for a cleaner and brighter future.