Is Scavenging Rubbish Illegal?

Everybody loves free stuff or hand-me-downs. And seeing a flawless and perfectly fine couch on the side of the road feels like hitting a jackpot.

But the real question is, is it okay to take that couch out of the kerb? Can I remove the rubbish out of other people’s bins?

In Brisbane, salvaging is encouraged for as long as you ensure you don’t break anything and leave the items stacked and tidy after scavenging. Therefore, you are free to take what you want but with precautions. However, check your local council’s regulations for further information.

NSW Return & Earn Program


In December 2017, NSW also initiated a recycling program called Return and Earn scheme. But, the main goal of this program is to reduce the volume of drink containers generated in the state by 2020.

One of its highlighted features promises a 10-cent refund for every 150 millilitres and 3 litres of beverage containers collected. For more information, check out this program’s acceptable and unacceptable containers.

Therefore, the legalities of kerbside scavenging depend on where you are located since councils have different by-laws. But, the general rule is, primarily in major cities, once the items are discarded on the kerb, it is no longer the person’s property. It now belongs to the council for removal and collection. 

Although rubbish items belong to the discarder, there’s a certain etiquette you have to follow. If you see something in the pile that you would like to recycle, as a courtesy, try to contact the person or seek permission from the homeowner who put it there in the first place.

So, if you want to forage for recyclables, make sure to return the items exactly where you found it.

Also, take extra care in handling breakables for the sake of the homeowner. Councils won’t pick up loose and broken materials leaving it to the owner to clean after your mess.

Kerbside Rules and Guidelines

To all homeowners, your council has the right to reject your waste items. Hence, residents are required by their local council to sort their items for convenient and easier pick-up.

Your waste items should be categorized into acceptable and unacceptable. These are the following items and not limited to:

Acceptable Waste  

  • Electronic waste e.g. televisions, computers
  • Furniture and white goods e.g. refrigerators, oven, stove
  • Rugs and carpet
  • Bicycles and sporting equipment
  • Small household appliances e.g. fans, toasters
  • Wood products smaller than 1.5 meters long
  • Bath and laundry tubs

Unacceptable Waste

  • Car parts and tyres, including car batteries
  • Garden waste
  • Hazardous chemicals e.g. oil, asbestos
  • Bricks and concrete
  • Gas bottles
  • General household waste e.g food residuals
  • Liquids
  • Dirt and stones
  • Mirrors and glass

Each council has different time and cleanup instructions for kerbside collection. Always make it a habit to check your local council for rules and guidelines.

This is to ensure that your waste will be accepted for pick up and minimise or avoid the risk of getting fined for illegal dumping. 

One more thing to consider for council pickup, the majority of acceptable waste items goes straight to our landfills. If you are environmentally conscious, you might opt for better and more affordable rubbish removal services – Aussie Junk.


Therefore, scavenging rubbish items is permitted but do it politely.

Scavenging can be fun but don’t forget your manners in all the excitement—tips for Scavengers, clean as you go.

Remember that most of your rubbish goes straight to our landfills. So, if you have items in your home that you want to get rid of, consider all your options and prioritize whether someone else might need it.

You can offer your items to your family and friends, donate them to your community, or sell them to a thrift shop. Just make sure your items are still in good shape and working.

You don’t have to go such lengthy and exhausting measures, Aussie Junk offers the most convenient and affordable rubbish removal services. Give us a call at ‪0435 569 921‬.

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Aussie Junk

Aussie Junk is a proud local Sydney rubbish removal company. We help educate Aussies on the importance of environmental topics such as recycling, hygiene, personal and social well-being and sustainability. Free up more valuable space in your life by calling our local team to help clear and clean out your junk today.

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