Rubbish-rifling recyclers earning $2000 a week
RUBBISH-rifling recyclers are earning up to $2000 a week by sifting through people's yellow bins and cashing in their drink containers.
But the cottage industry is infuriating residents because of the mess they leave in their wake.
"Fair go whoever is looking for cans and bottles in recycling bins put the rubbish back in the bins … it's not hard," wrote one angry Sydneysider on Facebook.
"Just do the right thing and everybody will be happy."
Since the Return and Earn scheme rolled out in December, 607 million drink containers have been returned and $54 million handed over to consumers at 10 cents a pop.
Only one in five people in NSW is using the scheme and three quarters of all containers sold are still being put into yellow recycling bins - leaving the way clear for the amateur army of recyclers to trawl from suburb to suburb on bin day and rifle through their garbage. And it is paying dividends.
"So far I have used the money to pay for a family holiday to Sri Lanka," one recycler on the northern beaches who did not want to be named said.
"You can make up to $2000 a week."
A Northern Beaches Council spokesman confirmed: "We have had a few phone calls from people noticing that it is happening."
However Labor environment spokeswoman Penny Sharpe warned permission should be sought before any bin diving got underway.
"The issue is if they have not asked permission and go through someone's bins and make a mess," Ms Sharpe said.
"There are some kids in our area who have asked if they can look for recyclable containers and that's OK."
She has been a staunch critic of the scheme which has left consumers more than $200 million out of pocket and seen increased prices of up to $4 a carton for soft drink, beer or bottled water.
The state is still 131 collection points shy of its 800 recycling point target. An Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman said: "The wider community knows the scheme works - that's why more and more people are doing the right thing and recycling rather than throwing away their empty drink containers."
But she said scavenging was not OK.
"The EPA does not condone fossicking in bins for containers as it is disruptive to residents and can cause unnecessary litter in our environment," she said.