Syringes, prawn shells amongst charity ‘donations’
A HORRIFIC post-Christmas dumping spree at Cairns charity op shop collection bins has one long-term staff member considering quitting the industry in despair.
This morning Edmonton Lifeline workers were greeted by a mountain of rubbish piled beside collection bins at the Bruce Hwy op shop.
Wearing long sleeves to protect themselves from lice, one worker said it was not uncommon for used nappies, syringes and KFC bones to be found dumped outside the op shop.
Compounding the dumping of trash is the vandalism of any resalable items before they can be collected on Monday morning.
Workers told the Cairns Post each Monday morning a truck was ordered to take dumped donations to a waste transfer station as all clothing was considered contaminated.
Regional manager of Cairns and Townsville Lifeline op shops Frank Costa said it was disheartening to see a spike in the volume of rubbish dumped after Christmas.
"(The donations) all got wet, so therefore none of it is any good. What was good was absolutely trashed. That's so sad," he said.
"It's a few people that do this and other people rifle through it and that causes the issue we saw this morning.
"It's worse at Christmas. We get prawn shells and by the time we get to them they are a mess."
The area manager of Salvation Army Family Stores, Alison Geno, said staff at the Manunda store in Hoare St were often confronted by abusive people stealing and urinating in dropped donations.
"By the time we get to it people have been through it and broken glass in it, they have peed in it and they have broken it," she said.
"It has just gone to another level. I have been doing this job for 14 years and this is the first time I have felt like walking out, it's overwhelming."
Lifeline's Mr Costa said bins were emptied daily during the week but budget constraints meant a weekend pick-up service was not possible.
Mr Costa said though some charities had chosen to remove donation bins, Lifeline ruled out the option at collection points in Cairns and Townsville.
"It's an ongoing problem but taking the bins away is not the answer," he said.
"I have reduced the bins in Cairns considerably, and now we only have them outside our shops so we have some control over it."
He estimated the removal of rubbish from shopfronts cost the charity more than $200,000 each year.