Vinnies intervene on illegal dumping

Like many charity organisations, Vinnies have experienced an increase in illegal dumping at their stores in recent years. By intervening with education, infrastructure and enforcement action they have gained a greater understanding of how to correct behaviours associated with dumping. Their experience and knowledge has contributed to the development of theVLAA Litter Prevention Kit for managing illegal dumping at charity stores.

Organisation Snapshot

The St Vincent de Paul Society has been operating in Australia since 1854 and has more than 40,000 members and volunteers nationwide. This workforce assists people in need and combats social injustice across Australia through the many and varied programs which the Society delivers. 

Funds which enable this work to happen come from a variety of sources including from the sale of donated goods in Vinnies stores. Stores range in size from shop fronts in shopping strips to warehouse sized stores in industrial areas. Currently there are 102 Vinnies stores in Victoria, the oldest, at 80 years, is located in the Melbourne suburb of Ascot Vale.

Background

Despite the generosity of the donating community, Vinnies stores experience many inappropriate donations including unaccepted items, household waste, and donations outside of store hours and / or not in the correct receptacles, see right.

Vinnies were keen to learn more about why this occurs, what could be implemented to encourage good donating behaviour and how to discourage dumping.

Project

In 2012 Vinnies were approached to take part in the Victorian Government’s Small Scale Illegal Dumping Program, targeting illegal dumping at charity stores. The aims and objectives of this program were to reduce illegal dumping, improve donating behaviour and trial the effectiveness of using surveillance cameras, lighting, fencing or signage to promote these behaviours.

Twenty Vinnies stores were involved in these trials, each with a different intervention installed and monitored. The knowledge and experience acquired during the trials, as well as long term organisational experience in this field, helped Vinnies improve prevention and management of illegal dumping at their stores and to reduce waste and waste costs.

Following the trials Vinnies continued to develop and implement interventions, appropriate to store conditions, leading to further improvements and savings.

Outcomes

In the two years since the Small Scale Illegal Dumping Program concluded Vinnies has experienced a number of positive outcomes including:

  • Reduction in dumping at some Vinnies stores
  • More proactive and coordinated response to illegal dumping
  • Smarter investment into infrastructure at stores to deter dumping
  • Better understanding of why people dump and how to target them with interventions at larger stores

Vinnies’ approach to tackling this issue has all the elements of best practice litter prevention – education, infrastructure and enforcement – and are all underpinned by good data collection and communication between stakeholders.

Their input into the VLAA Litter Prevention Kit for managing illegal dumping at charity stores has meant that a consistent model for managing this type of illegal dumping has been developed and is supported by the sector, as well as by local government who were also consulted in its development.

 “Illegal dumping at our Vinnies stores continues to be a costly challenge for us and our Victorian community. Our charity is encouraged by the growing support and assistance from the state and local government.”

Neil Harvey, Service Development Manager – Vinnies

Challenges

There were, and still are, a number of challenges for Vinnies in preventing and managing illegal dumping at stores. These include:

  • Getting local government on board to assist with enforcement
  • Correct camera placement to obtain the valid footage
  • Conflicting donation messages between parts of the organisation and at store level
  • Making donating more convenient for people so dumping is a less desirable option.

Vinnies continues to work with their industry body, the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations, NACRO, and other land managers to get the best outcomes at their stores. Solutions are often managed on a store by store basis as each has different needs.

Next steps

Vinnies believes there is still much more to know about behaviours, barriers and drivers which contribute to dumping at charity stores. They are keen to work with stores that have shared access, such as those near multi-unit developments or thoroughfares. They are also interested in trialling combined education, infrastructure and enforcement approaches at store level using the VLAA Litter Prevention Kit for managing illegal dumping at charity stores as a guide.

The VLAA Litter Prevention Kit for managing illegal dumping at charity stores is available for free download on the VLAA website www.litter.vic.gov.au. It was developed in consultation with the Victorian charity sector and local government, and is based on research and experiences of those working in this space. Salvos Stores are currently adapting the Toolkit to suit their specific conditions and local councils are being encouraged by VLAA to adopt it.