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So who will admit to being a regular council- clean up scavenger? Go on, own it! There is nothing quite like the thrill of finding an item you need. But there are some important things you should know before pilfering from the pile. 

Salvaging from toss out piles comes with some considerations. Before you dive in headfirst here are some things to keep in mind.

Is it legal? 

The answer is – it completely depends on your local council. Check with them first if you haven’t already and if you have recently moved to a new area don’t just assume it is the same as your old one. 

Most councils will allow it and some even encourage it. After all, it’s less waste for them to deal with and it avoids sending items to landfill. 

Generally, you’re free to help yourself at your own risk.

Is there anything I should avoid?

For your safety, don’t take any chemicals like paint or oil, gas bottles, food or liquids (ew!). 

On a more serious note, keep away from anything covered in builders plastic and wrapped with tape. While it is not kosher and completely illegal to dump asbestos waste on council collections you just never know about some people. They should have called a local asbestos service for responsible removal.

What should I do when I see that thing I like?

So you’ve checked the local regulations and your good to go, you see that Makita drill you always needed, or that old Barry Bennet surfboard for your wall. It is finally time to pull over and take your new lady home with you. We like to keep our eyes out for the thrower-outer-er and give ’em’ a nod of appreciation before we grab and dash. 

But whatever you do, don’t be a dill! Follow these tips to be a courteous collector:

  • Keep the pile tidy! Don’t rummage through, tossing items all over the place. Councils have strict rules about the presentation of the stuff being thrown out and often won’t pick them up if they don’t comply. 
  • Don’t break stuff! Just don’t be that guy. 
  • Only take what is clearly a part of the waste collection. Don’t grab the little girls bike that’s just sitting inside the driveway. 

Most councils will add a warning to prospective pile pickers – ‘at your own risk’. And this is for good reason. Too often we see hazardous waste items that end up on toss out piles rather than responsibly disposed of. Council collections can and do become dumping grounds for people of… smaller character, shall we say, who think nothing of scrapping fibre cement sheets, sharp metals, chemicals, broken glass – the list goes on. Beware collections of waste from homes going through demolition. Scrap timber may be what you’re after but more often they have broken, friable asbestos attached to them.

We at About The House Asbestos Removal see a lot of waste. It’s a sad part of the gig. But as we service households from Sydney, Central Coast and Newcastle we also see a lot of gems in those sporadic piles of goodness. As they say, ‘One man’s trash…’