News /Council

Anger over dumped rubbish at Savers

Illegal dumpers could be fined if caught by council surveillance camera

Some of the rubbish strewn around the back door of the Savers store earlier this week.

Mark Phillips
Friday, March 18, 2022

A SURVEILLANCE camera may be installed by Moreland Council at the back of the Brunswick Savers store in a bid to deter people from illegally dumping unwanted goods while the outlet is closed for renovations.

Despite signage clearly asking people not to make donations during the store closure, piles of clothes, furniture and other items have been left on the footpath in David Street.

The store, which was the first Savers in Australia, closed in January for an unspecified period for what the company has described as “a facelift”.

The shopfront on Sydney Road is currently hidden behind wooden hoardings and is planned to reopen midway through this year.

Large signs on the walls around a roller door at the rear of the store clearly state that it is not open to accept any donations of used clothing or other goods.

But this has not prevented piles of clothes being scattered over the footpath behind the store, along with other items including a large upholstered couch and stuffed toys. Appearing to have accumulated over several weeks, none of the clothes were in bags and all of the items were exposed to the elements.

The rubbish was removed on Thursday, three days after Brunswick Voice first alerted the council to the mess.

The large-scale dumping in David Street follows a recent council blitz on dumped rubbish throughout February.

During the February blitz, more than 230 residents identified 396 rubbish hotspots which have been narrowed down to 10, including four in Brunswick and one in Brunswick East, to be given extra attention with increased patrols and surveillance cameras installed. The council has committed to removing rubbish from those locations on the same day it is reported.

Two private property owners have also been issued with notices to clear rubbish on their land.

The back entrance of Savers was among the 396 rubbish hotspots, but was not on the list of 10 targeted by the council.

However, when contacted by Brunswick Voice, Moreland Mayor Mark Riley said extra resources would be put into cleaning up the David Street site.

“We want Moreland to be a clean, safe and beautiful place to live, so unsightly dumped rubbish has no place in our community,” he said.

“We will work with the organisation to help minimise incidences of dumped items while they are temporarily closed. Council has installed signage and is looking into installing a surveillance camera in this area.

“I encourage members of the public to report dumped rubbish to us – we will investigate quickly and issue fines where offenders are identified.”

The footpath behind the Savers store is technically council-owned land, and anyone caught dumping unwanted items there could be issued with an on-the-spot fine of $363. Penalties of up to $4000 for individuals and $18,000 for businesses can be imposed if a matter is taken to court.

Given its prominent signage advising that the site is not taking donations, it is questionable if Savers itself could be held liable for the illegal dumping on its doorstep.

Savers, which is owned by the US-based private equity giant Ares Management, did not respond to repeated requests to comment for this article, including whether one of the reasons for the renovation of the Brunswick store is to remove asbestos.

The business operates by partnering with not-for-profit organisations to take donations of second hand goods on its behalf, and distributing a small proportion of its sales back to the partner charities.

The Brunswick store is partnered with Diabetes Australia.

Globally, Savers – which began in the US in the 1950s and has 300 stores in North America and Australia – generates about US$1.2 billion in sales each year. It has seven outlets in Melbourne’s suburbs.